Archive for December 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

embellished glasses and glass stem charms


With New Year’s Eve around the corner, here's a fun craft project for festive glassware. Perfect for you new year's toast with a glass of the bubbly (sparkling cider in our case!).

What you'll need:

*Quick Hold Craft--This is a potent all purpose adhesive and sealant. This glue is water resistant.
*Glasses--Walmart has them super cheap. I bought a set of four for less than $2
*Wireform Craft Wire (we understand the aluminum wire is rust-proof, but we can't personally vouch for it yet)
*Decorative Glass marbles.


1. Mold your wire to the design you want. Use a pair of pliers to hold the end of the wire if needed, then wrap around the tips to make the spiral shown here.


2. Using the Quick Hold Craft Glue, adhere to the glass. WARNING--Follow the directions on the craft glue box. This is very important, or you could have a big mess on your hands. I learned the hard way. It is also has a very strong odor, so make sure no pregnant ladies or kiddies are around, and do it in a well-ventilated area.


3. Use Quick Hold Craft glue to adhere the decorative marble.


4. Voila! You're done. You can do them all the same or you can mix the designs or marbles up so people will know which glass is theirs. We recommend you hand-wash the glasses.



Another similar idea is to make your own wine glass charms, to help your guests remember which glass belongs to them. Let each guest choose their own unique charm, hung on a piece of wire, and attach it to the stem of their glass. We found this great tutorial, plus lots of ideas and even kits to purchase from Save-on-Crafts. These would be so fun to make from supplies you already have in your own craft stash!


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry christmas & blog holiday



The Three Birdies want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for all of your support in 2008--we hope we have inspired you to share a piece of yourself this Christmas through handmade gifts and goodies. We're taking a short blog holiday to enjoy time with our families, but we'll be back with tons of great ideas for the new year!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

artful wrapping and free gift tags


I'm in a wrapping frenzy! I started leaving wrapping to the last minute when my oldest was a toddler. It's just not worth re-wrapping everything that the little ones unwrap! Or maybe you're just a procrastinator (also like me). Here are a few simple wrapping ideas to make your packages really special this season.

Using plain white wrapping paper, I made these small gifts bright and cheery with little effort. Try adding a sprig of berries and a sparkly bow for a huge visual impact.



This polka-dot paper isn't necessarily just for Christmas, but I added a fancy satin ribbon to dress it up and make it seem a little more Christmas-y.


Add a jingle bell or simple ornament to a small gift to add some flair.


We took plain tins and dressed them up with just a piece of patterned paper (cut out and glued to the top) and some ribbon to give away these cute bottlecap magnets.




A cute tag can totally dress up simple packaging. Here are links to some of our favorite FREE gift tags on the Web. Just download and print! Don't forget to thank these amazing women for their generosity!

lollychops


modmom


sewmamasew



marthastewart


bucklette




grandrevivaldesign


everydayfoodstorage

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Monday, December 22, 2008

last minute neighbor gifts

Here are a couple more quick and easy neighbor/co-worker/hostess gifts you can put together fast, just in case you're still searching for a little something.

These "root deer" would be a great gift to put together with the kids. Just decorate each bottle in a six pack of root beer with pipe cleaner, pom-poms, googly eyes, and felt. We even added a tiny jingle bell collar.


If you're even shorter on time, try wrapping up a fun holiday-scented item like this Winter Candy Apple hand soap from Bath & Body Works. This would make a fabulous hostess gift.


Or, wrap up a bottle of sparkling apple cider or your favorite wine for a simple but very welcome holiday gift. We found this lovely photo on Divine Caroline, and they share a few other "last-minute gifts that don't seem so. . ."


Happy gifting!

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Expressing You giveaway winner

The winner of a fabulous Christmas present from Expressing You is...



Erin K of erinkcreations.blogspot.com!


Congratulations, Erin! Please email us at littlebirdiesecrets@gmail.com so we can put you in touch with Jessyka and you can start choosing your vinyl design!

Merry Chrismas!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

easy wreaths for last minute decor

I know, Christmas is almost here, so most of us are enjoying our family and holiday traditions, not crafting. But if you're looking for one more little thing to complete your Christmas decor, here are a couple of really fast wreaths you can make in about half an hour!

The Long Thread posted this simple ribbon wreath tutorial using gray ribbon for a cool Halloween decoration. We just changed it to red ribbon for a stunning holiday wreath. And it only took about 30 minutes to make!



We saw this idea in a Better Homes and Gardens publications and couldn't believe how cheap and easy it was to make! Use it to display Christmas cards (all the cards I've received so far have been the extra-large variety, so they didn't fit very well on my wreath--but you get the idea), or just hang it plain.


Christmas Card Display Wreath

What you'll need:

*Wreath form
*About 5 yards upholstery webbing (I found this at JoAnn and Walmart for about $.70 a yard)
*Straight pins
*Small clips

1. Pin the webbing onto the wreath form. Wrap it around until it covers the entire wreath.


2. When you get back to the beginning, pin the end of the webbing to secure it.


3. Cut the webbing and use the extra to tie a large bow, also pinning it into place. Then use the remainder to hold the wreath so it can be hung.


4. If you have a variety of smaller cards, clip them to the wreath with small clips from the office supply store. Voila!



This one is my all-time favorite. Eddie Ross has a simple tutorial for this amazing wreath made from Christmas tree ornaments! We're going to hit the after-Christmas sales to get great deals on ornaments for this beauty to hang next year.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

almond flavor = holidays

Maybe it's just me, but something about almond flavoring always reminds me of the holiday season. It's probably because I love the flavor, and many of my favorite holiday recipes call for it! With only 6 days left to prepare and bake for your holiday feast, we thought we better share some delicious almond flavored recipes.

The first recipe comes from one of our favorites, myrecipes.com. When I got an email with this recipe inside, it went straight to the top of my "must try recipes" list. These cookies look divine!

Amaretto Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
  • About 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 3 tablespoons almond-flavored liqueur, such as amaretto, or 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • About 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sliced almonds

Preparation:

1. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat 1 cup butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg yolk, liqueur, and orange peel and beat until well blended.

2. In another bowl, mix 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture; stir to mix, then beat until well blended. Gather dough into a ball, divide in half, and flatten each portion into a disk; wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and freeze until firm enough to roll without sticking, about 30 minutes.

3. Unwrap dough. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll one disk at a time to about 1/4 inch thick. With a floured, 2-inch round cutter, cut out cookies. Place about 2 inches apart on buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets. Gather excess dough into a ball, reroll, and cut out remaining cookies.

4. In a small bowl, beat egg white with 1 teaspoon water to blend. Brush cookies with mixture and sprinkle or arrange about 1/2 teaspoon sliced almonds on each.

5. Bake cookies in a 325ยบ regular or convection oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes; if baking two sheets at once in one oven, switch their positions halfway through cooking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide spatula to transfer to racks to cool completely.


The next recipe first came to my attention when I had it at fellow birdie Mandy's house. I was raving over it and once she told me how simple it was...it went on my "must try recipes" list. Since I haven't started in on my holiday treats yet, I have no pictures to offer for these last 2 recipes. You will just have to make them yourself to see how wonderful they look, and more importantly, taste!


Swedish Almond Cake

Combine, mixing as little as possible:
1 c. sugar
1 c. flour
2 beaten eggs
1 cube of butter, melted
1 tsp. almond extract
Pour into greased and floured pie plate. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top to nicely cover (it's still delicious without these if you don't like nuts!). Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely. Can be refrigerated or frozen.


This last recipe is a special tradition in my family. My mom made this cake every Christmas. We were too excited about our new presents to eat a major breakfast, so we ate a slice of this cake washed down with some hot chocolate. My mom knew she could get us to at least eat that! I have continued the tradition with my own little family and we all love it.


Swedish Coffee Cake

Cream together:
1 c. butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract

Stir in:
2 c. flour
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Streusel:
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. chopped pecans

Layer into a greased and floured bundt pan in this order: cake batter, sugar mixture, cake batter, sugar mixture, cake batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 min. Flip cake out onto platter. Frost with: 1 tsp. almond, 1 T. milk and 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar. If you're like me, and prefer a thicker frosting, you can increase powdered sugar until desired thickness. This cake can also be made in large loaf pans if desired.

We hope you enjoy these holiday recipes as much as we do. Happy Baking!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

santa's workin' late





We couldn't resist one more giveaway before Christmas. Aren't these rooms totally stunning? Jessyka of Expressing You designed these hip wall vinyl designs, and she wants one of our lucky readers to put one in their home. Are you jumping up and down yet? We've got a $25 gift certificate for a vinyl decal of your choice to give away, but you better hurry--Santa's coming soon! Leave us a comment with your favorite design from the Expressing You Etsy shop by Sunday, December 21 at 11:59pm PST. We'll post our winner Monday. This would make a great gift for someone special, like yourself! I know I would keep it if I won. Just being honest (in case Santa's reading!).

Don't forget to stop by Expressingyou.etsy.com and tell us your favorite design!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

apron gift set

Here's another pretty quick and easy last-minute gift idea for all you procrastinators. We love the idea of a matching apron and oven mitt for the chef in your life. We made these up without a pattern, but we've included a list of free apron patterns below for those of you who aren't quite as confident in your sewing skills as our Stacy.


We don't have a full tutorial for these cute things, but here's a quick synopsis for those of you who are "sew" savvy:

You need about a yard of fabric for each apron. Cut two four-inch wide strips the length of the fabric. Sew them together to make one long tie. Then, using the remaining fabric as the body of the apron, hem three of the sides, leaving the top edge raw. Gather or pleat this side and sew it to the apron tie, right sides together. Fold the apron tie over, iron the fold, and sew it closed. Embellish by making a ruffle out of strips of fabric with the sides serged (or overcast stitched). I love this little ruffle look. You can also use ric rac or ribbon. So many possibilities. The tie is long enough to wrap around the back and tie in the front in a cute bow.

So, if that was all gibberish to you, here are links to over 50 free apron patterns. An apron and matching oven mitt has got to fit the bill of someone on your list. And there are still 7 days left to craft--you can do it!

http://tipnut.com/56-free-apron-patterns-you-can-make/
http://lululollylegs.blogspot.com/2007/07/lined-apron-tutorial.html
http://morganmoore.typepad.com/one_more_moore/2007/02/valentine_tree__1.html

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

simple scarves for a chic gift



It's crunch time! Only 8 days until Christmas, and you're still looking for a great gift for your sister, friend, babysitter, child's teacher, or all of the above. Here's a quick and easy answer. Scarves are not only functional, but super stylish. If you don't have time (or inclination) to knit or crochet one, cut one instead. Seriously--it's that easy. Find a rayon/cotton knit or jersey knit--something that is soft and has a little stretch. Mine came in 60" width, so I could get four single-layer scarves out of one 2-yard piece. I folded it a couple of times length-wise so it would fit my cutting mat, then used my quilting ruler and rotary cutter to cut it in four equal pieces. The raw edges curl slightly, which gives it a finished look. WOW--I just made four fabulous gifts in about 3 minutes--no sewing required!



For a little thicker version, cut your 2-yard length of knit fabric in half lengthwise. Then take each piece, fold it in half lengthwise, and sew it in a big rectangle, leaving a small opening to turn inside-out. You can quickly hand sew the opening closed. I then got my scarf wet and twisted it, securing it with rubber bands and leaving it twisted until it dried. This just gives it a wrinkled texture, which relaxes the jersey knit fabric nicely (and covers up your not-so-straight sewing!).


We took this project one step further and embroidered a simple bird to give it some more interest. C'est tres chic!


Check back for more quick and easy gift ideas coming up this week--because we know we can't be the only procrastinators out there!

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