Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fairy Doors: welcoming the wee folk

It seems some of us never outgrow our childhood fascination with the world of miniatures. (I admit, even being of a certain age, to having three dollhouses in varying states of remodeling) 
So naturally I was delighted to find that all things small are making a big comeback. It seems that especially pint sized, or "fairy" gardens, are continuing to grow in popularity with every manner of mini accessories now available for wee folk's home and landscape needs. Of course many of these mini treasures come at not-so-tiny price points, prompting lots of DIY ideas and thriftier alternatives.

 In one of my very first blog posts, I featured a Christmas elf door, a super simple idea that was surprisingly popular, so at the risk of being a one trick pony, I thought I'd revisit it with some new tweaks and variations for the Spring season as well as for an upcoming craft workshop. 
This month I'm thrilled to be included in a group of bloggers who will be sharing their crafts and ideas at the Philly Home Show's Make and Take Station, and thought this would be a fun project. 
Easy to make, with supplies you may have on hand already, fairy or elf doors can be imagined in countless colors and designs to suit your taste and can be tailored to most any season or holiday.

Craft Stick Fairy or Elf Doors
You'll Need
popsicle or craft sticks
white glue
acrylic paints or stains
crafty odds and ends
 (buttons, faux moss, mini accents etc.)
please note these little creations are cute but can be fragile and shouldn't be used as toy 

To start, simply glue desired number of sticks to wide band of paper. This will provide support and allow door to bend slightly if desired. For a garden gate look, (right) simply arrange the sticks in a step pattern. Rounded ends can be carefully trimmed with strong scissors or simply camouflaged later with greens. Excess paper on sides make for easy handling and can be snipped off once dry.
While glue is drying, paint or stain the front and allow to dry.
Try a favorite solid color....
You can create a fun crackled or weathered look simply with white craft glue and acrylic paints
For crackle technique, paint base color - this will be the shade that appears as cracks
once dry, "paint" with a coat of white glue and while glue is still tacky apply your top coat of acrylic (contrasting colors work best). 
Might want to use a "throwaway" paintbrush for this step.
A thicker glue layer will yield larger cracks but longer drying time
let it dry and voila, instant antiquity

If you are going to use your door to adorn a round flower pot, gently snap between each stick, This gives the door some flexibility but it will still be attached to paper backing for support. 
Once dry have fun painting on accents or decorating with foliage or accessories. 
Try button doorknobs and barrette hinges 
for a freestanding door you can glue or tape (a block of floral foam for support
(I used athletic tape from the dollar store) 
or attach a craft stick "stake" to be inserted in planter- 
a fun way to accent a plant for a unique gift

If attaching to wall, make sure to find something appropriate (and removable) at your home store.

We were delighted to share this project at the Philly Home Show!

Looking for a more formal look?
visit our Formal Fairy Garden post
An easy DIY using a spray painted plastic doll and more craft sticks
 for our bookish friends 
a garden in a book from A Secret Garden Tea

I'm delighted to have this project featured on the lovely....
The Enchanting Rose

Thanks so much for Visiting!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

Wishing our wonderful readers the
Happiest of Valentine's Days

When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew
                                               William Shakespeare

from the PennyWise Crew

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Breakfast on Bourbon Street: Mardis Gras DIY's

While raucously celebrating Mardis Gras in New Orleans is still on my "someday" wish list (sigh), I thought for the time being I would give a nod to the city's most famous party with an easy project and a couple of quick southern inspired sweet treats. 

Admittedly this year's Fat Tuesday will probably find me catching up on Downton Abbey reruns rather than frantically catching beads or gleefully downing goblets of hurricanes, but I can at least enjoy a little festive Big Easy flare, with a quiet coffee at home.

Bourbon Street Lamp Post
A fun way to celebrate this iconic street.

You will Need
mini solar lamps
(I borrowed two from my yard)
planter with soil deep enough to support lamp firmly
or any tall faux floral arrangement with sturdy base
Bourbon St. printout
faux ivy flowers or greens
Mardis Gras accents:masks beads, crowns etc
 (available from Dollar or party stores)
Simply print out street sign image and glue onto sturdy paper or card stock. Then cut out and attach to light with strong tape
Then firmly insert lamp base into planter and adorn with greens and accessories
A crown from Christmas decor, gold rim glass and beads add sparkle
The taller post was made from a grapevine prop I found among my dusty "treasures" and the solar light just happened to fit perfectly in the center tube holding the vines! (and to think it almost ended up at Goodwill)
Make sure the lights get some sun exposure during the day if they are to be displayed at night- I simply popped the top part off and set outside or in a sunny window

"Not Quite" Beignets
While the beignets of New Orleans are the stuff of legend, a quick recipe search had me looking for an alternative more within my skill set (rising yeast and deep frying make me skittish) To the rescue a beignet-like cake recipe from the talented and very funny 
domestic rebel.
Starting with a butter cake mix and simply making a few tweaks, these golden cakes with a hint of nutmeg and sprinkled with powdered sugar, while not technically beignets, are delightful with a morning coffee.

Orange Spiced Coffee
I recently learned of a famous coffee, orange and brandy flambe concoction called Cafe' Brulot, popular in New Orlean's finest old restaurants. While brandy and open flames might not be appropriate for breakfast, the orange flavor sounded wonderful.
For a cafe worthy drink, I made a simple orange syrup that can be added to give coffee a bright but subtle orange flavor, or added to tea or smoothies as well.

Orange Syrup 1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
peel of one orange (white pith removed)
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp orange extract 
Place sugars, water and orange peel in small saucepan. Heat over low-medium until dissolved and almost to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes. Add orange extract and let cool. Strain into a bottle and store in the fridge.
add to coffee to taste and top whipped cream dusted with cinnamon and orange rind if desired
Image graphics fairy circa 1907 sheet music
Laissez les Bon temps Rouler

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Love Notes: Easy Valentine decor

While the instant gratification of a text or email has it's place for practical purposes, when it comes to expressions of love, the time honored classic Valentine still holds it's own in our increasingly "paperless" world. 
This most romantic of holidays is said to be named for a 3rd century priest, later St. Valentine, who secretly married young couples against the emperors wishes. Imprisoned for his actions, some say he fell in love with the jailers daughter, penning his last letter to her signed "your Valentine"
Others credit these expressions of love to the amorous notes of the imprisoned Duke d'Orleans to his adored wife in the 1400's, one still in existence today today with the words "my very gentle valentine"
Letter from Duke of Orleans to his wife 1415
History by Zim
Centuries later the 1800's saw increased printing technology and decreased postage costs, contributing to the Valentine sending frenzy still in evidence today. In fact sources estimate that in 2015, over 145 million Valentines were sent in the U.S. alone.
For some fascinating facts about the holiday visit the fun and informative 
 History of the Card
Valentine cards are lots of fun to send to others but they can also add a little whimsy and romance to your own home holiday decor. 
While dimensional cards and delightful paper creations have been around for ages, I thought I'd share my quick and easy version that can be made in a snap with printouts and supplies you most likely have on hand. 

  I chose vintage images for their over the top romantic sentiment, (after all it's only once a year) but any era or style Valentine will do.
Vintage Valentine Dioramas
I used
vintage Valentine images from 
the graphics fairy
card stock or sturdy paper
weather stripping 
(since I needed such a small amount, I just snipped a bit off a roll, 
still plenty of r the windows)
craft knife and scissors
craft glue
glitter, accents and craft odds and ends

sweet images from the Graphics fairy site
I started by making three identical copies of each image on sturdy paper or card stock, adjusting to desired size.
Cut out image, leaving large sections on either side to fold back as stand later
One image will serve as the background and support, one the mid ground and one the foreground
The background will remain intact, then simply choose elements you want cut away from mid ground and foreground copies, the foreground the smallest having the most cut away to reveal layers behind.
Once your happy with your design, add any glitter, trim or accents. It's easier at this step
Then discreetly adhere a small bit of weather stripping at various points, some glue and press carefully but firmly between layers
(you can easily double stripping up for more dimension)
Place on a mantel
or under a cloche with romantic accents

Fun Facts
 In the 1800's "vinegar" Valentines with sometimes funny but often snarky comments were sent, usually and unfairly to spinsters, but also to pretentious or unlikeable acquaintances. In the late 1800's, 25,000 of these were seen as "unfit" to deliver and rejected by the US postal service

In the Middle Ages, people believed birds found their mates on February 14th, thus the dove and feathered friends in general, became popular symbols the holiday

A single rose represents love at first sight

Wishing Everyone the Happiest of Valentine's Days