Saturday, December 29, 2012

Auld Lang Syne: Happy New Year

Champagne Bubble Tablescape * Noisemakers Makeover

I admit it: I happily slept through the last few New Year's Eves, blissfully unaware of the frenzied countdown to midnight in Times Square; but just because you're not wide eyed and bushy tailed at the stroke of twelve doesn't mean you can't enjoy some New Year's Spirit with a few easy and festive touches that won't start next year's budget in the red.

For these projects, much of what I used, I had on hand. Sometimes in the spirit Christmas creativity I overdo the craft and dollar store runs. So comes December 26th, it's not unusual to find myself with a few extra (meant to get to them) unused craft supplies: clear glass ornaments, pearlized garland, silver tinsel - still in packages. Fortunately many of these items in a crystalline or white palette translate perfectly into New Year's decor. Don't have leftovers? No worries, most of these, or similar items can be found at after-holiday sales for mere pennies on the dollar.

I'm so thrilled- this post was chosen as one of Rooted in Thyme's Friday Favorites!
Many Thanks!

Bubble, Bubble
Champagne Bubble Centerpiece

You'll Need
Aforementioned "leftovers": glass globes, beaded garland, anything sparkly
Fishing line or clear beading string
Clear Pearl effect  or sparkle paint (if desired)
Chandelier, overhead light, or ceiling hook

Since Champagne can quickly go flat, why not create a flurry of unbreakable bubbles over your dining table or buffet. Those glass globes which crafters reinvent a million ways over the holidays: fill with snow, paint like a snowman, etc - make perfect light catching "bubbles" when unadorned, just as they are. Of course, if desired you can simply swirl some clear pearl effect paint inside and let dry for added luminescence. Throw in some soft white or champagne colored balls and simply hang your bubbles amid any garlands or tinsel in whatever design catches your fancy. You can also set some globes on your centerpiece to continue the effervescent effect.

For this display I cut varying lengths of clear monofilament attaching a globe at both ends of each string. Then I draped the line over the different curves in the light fixture. This saves a lot of knot tying directly onto the light fixture- especially when you're precariously perched on a dining room chair. Also this allows an easy adjustment in the length of the line once they are hung- simply gently pull one globe longer- the other will shorten- but it beats tying and untying.

I added some smaller white "bubbles" and other sparkle for interest. Pop a bottle of bubbly display some noisemakers and you're ready to ring in the next 365 days.

 I painted a Dollar store tray with chalkboard paint and wrote MMXIII
(yes I had to look up the Roman numerals)
The "clock" is from the printables put into mini frame ornament
Disclaimer: That's Prosecco in the glass stand, a wonderful italian sparkler and great alternative to more pricey bubbly. The good stuff on the table was a gift!

Make some Noise

They say the tradition of noise makers dates to ancient times as a way to chase off evil spirits. Though these aren't guaranteed to transcend the spiritual realm, they look fun displayed on the table and will make a good clamor come midnight.

You'll Need:
Party noisemakers (run about a $1 a pack)
Clock and music Printables (on our Printables page), or scrapbook, wrapping paper or stickers
tinsel and streamers
odds and ends
glue or hot glue

Though these noisemakers scream "party", I thought I'd give them an easy makeover to highlight the vintagey  New Year's theme and toned down color scheme. I simply cut images and doilies and hot glued over the existing noisemaker, then cut out accents like the clocks and added with ribbon or tinsel accents, or whatever you have on hand.

I found this vintage free art online. The music is "Auld Lang Syne" which apparently loosely translated means "the good old days"

The fun part is making each one unique.

before and after

Wishing everyone A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

great vintage images from:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chance of Flurries

Edible Snow Globes

There is something truly magical about a snow globe. Who hasn't gazed wistfully into one, mesmerized by the miniature perfect frosty world contained inside? Originally designed as paperweights in the 1800's, snow globes, (or waterdomes or snow shakers) have literally taken the world by "storm"; from plastic souvenirs to high end crystal spheres complete with music and flashing lights.
I thought it might be fun to create an "edible" version and although these treats are not completely true to their highly popular inspiration, they are a whimsical dessert that looks fun on the table for kids or kids at heart.

These are similar to the little oceans (gummy sharks swimming in blue jello) you might see at a child's birthday party but use a clear gelatin, snowman peeps and coconut "snow"

You'll Need
marshmallow Peep Characters (frozen until hard)
gelatin or vegetarian alternative
shredded coconut
sprite or clear soda or juice
blue sugar or coloring
wine glasses or globe shaped glassware

I followed the recipe on the knox gelatin label for knox bloc, using clear soda (sprite) in place of the water and fruit juice and reducing the packets of gelatin to three, but depending on the brand you may need to experiment. I also added a dash of blue sugar sprinkles as I was out of blue food coloring, to give it a pale blue cooler hue and to counteract the natural yellowy cast) There are also several vegetarian alternatives to gelatin I am dying to try.

Pour a small amount of gelatin in bottom of cup adding a generous amount of coconut. Let chill (about an hour).

 Press snowman peeps firmly into firm gelatin base, cutting a slit in surface if necessary. Once frosty is standing steady, carefully pour in a bit more gelatin mixture (don't cover completely as snowmen will float to the top. I lost a few that way) Chill again and repeat process continuing to add layers of gelatin mixture and sprinkles of coconut a bit at a time. I kept the gelatin mixture at room temperature during this process
Once jelled, sprinkle with more coconut and enjoy!

These were a bit tricky to photograph and are clearer in person. They have a light lemon lime coconut taste. Serve on a silver tray to catch the light.
Would love to try a "grown-up" version with Champagne!

Wishing you the Happiest of New Years!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not a creature was stirring....

Pet Projects

Ginger Dog Treats in a Jar 
 Kitty Silhouettes

I recently read that Americans spend an average of $5 million dollars on their pets over the holiday season! Santa's list includes personalized Christmas stockings, a variety of toys and treats, not to mention spiffy new holiday outfits! 
Although Fluffy and Fido are worth every penny, here are some budget friendly ideas to celebrate our furry friends this season.

Ginger Dog Treats in a Jar

Recipe from Rachel Ray
While your baking human cookies, why not throw in a batch of yummy holiday dog treats as well? This is also a fun and easy gift for any of the dog lovers on your list.

There are also other great recipes to try at this site (peanut butter pictured above)

Please Note: the original recipe continued cinnamon but a reader mentioned this could adversely affect dogs so I removed it. Ask your vet to be sure!
You'll need:
 Mason jar or decorative container (must hold 3 cups)
3 cups Wheat flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger-
tag with baking instructions (we have one on our Printables page)
dog bone cookie cutter- or any holiday shapes (a cat cookie cutter would be a riot)
ribbon or twine

Simply mix dry ingredients in jar, attach a fun cookie cutter and recipe tag! 
*Make sure to check with your vet if your dog has any dietary restrictions

Kitty Silhouettes

Everyone has digital photos of their pets but why not turn those pics into a classic silhouette. Of course this centuries old portrait technique originally used candlelight (and lots of patience) but we'll do more modern easy DIY versions.
These can also be done for dogs (or birds, or guinea pigs or humans for that matter) but since cats are known for demanding adoration from their owners, honoring them with their likeness to be prominently displayed seemed a fitting tribute. 
You'll Need:
photos of subject in profile 
(this can be more difficult that it would seem-even with an infinite collection of cat pics like mine)
sturdy paper or card stock
assorted paints
mini canvases
old jar lids- spray painted solid color
scrapbook paper
ribbbon, trim, glitter, odds and ends 

Once I found photos to use I sized them to scale and printed them out on sturdy paper

 The model, overseeing the creative process
 with a dark pen, I outlined the subject, taking license with the fur around the neckline to create a pleasing portrait
The photos don't have to be great light or focus-wise, more important is the angle of their cute little heads. Once outlined, carefully cut out silhouette.

 I flipped them over to tell how they would look in a solid color. These were fine but I added on the second ears, just feeling they looked more feline.

 There are several techniques you can use to create your pet portrait.
Using the silhouette as a template I placed it firmly on a mini canvas and painted the background black using a dabbing motion- like sponge painting. Once removed, the negative silhouette is created in white.

 I touched up any imperfections in the outline carefully with a small paintbrush and added some wispiness to the fur in places and "Le Chat" in white. Then I topped with a ribbon hanger and Voila!
I then finished painting the template cutout black and was able to create another portrait


I chose traditional black for these but any color combo will do.I lined the lids with scrapbook paper and glued the cut out portraits in the center. I also tried to match the color and style to the pet's personality: one loves sitting on books so I used the script the other fancies herself a princess so the pink damask.
 I then covered with a coat of Diamond glaze, let dry thoroughly and added trim, accents and ribbon hangers.

Wishing All Creatures great and small a Happy 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice Cake

I don't usually need much of an excuse to enjoy cake, so whipping up a sweet treat to celebrate the  upcoming lighter, brighter, and lengthening days seemed a perfectly logical endeavor. Although ancient rites probably didn't include buttercream or white chocolate, the solstice "spirit" is there in this natured themed winter white confection.

I chose a light butter pecan cake and cream cheese frostings (with thanks to Betty Crocker and the Pillsbury Dough boy) but if unlike myself, you are blessed with baking skills any favorite homemade light or white cake and icing combo would be wonderful.

You Will Need
White iced cake
coconut "snow" (optional)
bread sticks or long cylinder shaped cookies (like Corinthians- my Dollar Store sells them)
white meltable chocolate 
zip-loc baggie with corner snipped for piping branches
paper moon topper
 As in an actual winter forest trees come in all shapes and sizes so I tried a variety of techniques using cookie or bread stick "trunks" and melted white chocolate branches. (If you don't have bread sticks or cookies on hand, you can also simply "paint" trunkless trees like the pines).

You can squeeze the melted chocolate using the zip-loc baggie as a makeshift pastry bag or simply paint on more free-form branches with a small spoon.
Make sure to lay out plenty of wax paper for your forest and I always make more than I need to allow for breakage. 

 Add extra chocolate wear the branches meet the trunk to secure

 As you can see some are more tree-like than others (some didn't make the cut)
Once the chocolate is hardened CAREFULLY peel away from wax paper 
(the bread sticks are especially fragile) and insert carefully into cake

Then create your winter landscape adding a moon topper (on our printable page) or any other greeting if desired
The writing is from the poem
 The Winter Solstice and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

 In keeping with the "light" theme, you can add small votive candles among the trees just before serving, It looks lovely but act quickly, meltable chocolate really is meltable!

Wishing everyone Bright and Happy Days in the New Year!