December 12, 2014

Very Merry DIY Christmas Gift Tags - A Craft Café Blog Hop

I am very proud and happy to participate in this blog hop organized by a great craft blogger, Claire from Heart Handmade UK, a truly great idea as we draw to the end of the year and Christmas is approaching. 

Make sure to check out these inspiring blogs for more awesome ideas:

These fancy Christmas tree gift tags are one of the easiest DIY I've ever made, and a pretty way to add a personal touch to gifts.

I was excited to use these tags on my Christmas gifts, they're so easy to make, and I think they look so pretty!

  • cupcake cups - I used some mini-muffin cups  for smaller tags
  • scissors
  • double-sided tape (with small paper projects I prefer this kind of tape instead of glue - no mess, no fuss)
  • needle
  • string
  • fancy tape for a nice finish
  • embellishments - beads, bells, charms, glitter glue, etc.

Step One: Fold the cupcake cup in half twice making a firm crease.

Step Two: Using a small scissors (it's easy to handle) cut along the line of the crease - each cup will make two triangles. Next, line up the edges and glue them using the double-sided tape.

Step Three: After deciding how many triangles you are going to use (I made some tags using three, and some using four), attach them to each other using the double-sided tape on their back. For a nice finish, and to cover up the double-sided tape, add a pretty tape to the back.

Step Four: Cut a piece of a string and using a needle attach it to the tree. Tie the two string ends together, but not before embellish it with a few beads. Now you have a handmade  hangtag. 

There are so many different variations you could do to get creative with these tags, just by switching up the cup colors, size and pattern, the color string, or the beads you use.

Happy crafting!

December 4, 2014

Christmas giftwrap

I wanted to show you how we can wrap up and embellish Christmas gifts without breaking the bank, and making gift giving more personal. I wanted to keep it simple using just materials I already had at home, not buying any new supplies.

So I gathered a bunch of papers, ribbons, tapes, golden ornaments, tie-ons, stickers, etc., and spread them all over the floor on my craft room hoping to come up with some ideas. Looking all around me I could imagine endless combinations and possibilities.

So it happened. I chose pink & turquoise as my color scheme, not the usual Christmas colors I must say, but yet pretty.

I have always liked gold and white together, so it was natural to me to choose a white fru-fru ribbon and a self-adhesive golden tape to wrap one of the turquoise packages, and to embellish it I used golden thread and jingle bells. Jingle bells are fun, aren't they?

Something simpler? Satin white ribbon to wrap a pink package, and to make it look like Christmas I added golden Christmas ball ornaments.

Golden and silver snowflake adhesives to embellish a package wrapped with two beautiful white ribbons, and to add a little spark pretty pink pearls. 

Layering is crucial to an interesting look, here a wide pink ribbon, a thin white one on top of it, and golden thread wrap a small pink package. I painted wood veneer snowflakes in gold using glitter glue, the same glue I used to glue them on the ribbon, and last but certainly not least I glued adorable blue pearls on them. 

Do you like the vintage Christmas stickers on the packages? Actually they are chocolate wrapping papers from last Christmas. I ate them all, the chocolate I mean, but I saved these cuties for a rainy day ^_^

The beauty of wrapping gifts to the ones we love is that there is never a lack of inspiration as to how to make them in different ways using just simple materials.

Have fun wrapping!

November 30, 2014

Sweet and fresh aromas for a happy Thanksgiving

I did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving but I've learned to enjoy it as one of the most special American holidays.

I've spent Thanksgiving at Brady's family and friend's homes, and have enjoyed different and delicious meals.  The last couple of years, however, it's been just Brady and I, and we make sure it is as special as it should be.

We cook, we eat, we drink, we listen to music, and we eat again. Brady cooks the meal, I am the helper, setting the table nicely, arranging flowers and candles, taking photographs, and making the dessert, always a simple and sweet melt-in-the-mouth one. It feels cozy.

Mind you, our Thanksgiving menu perhaps is not a traditional one, but it's comfort and good food, and we get excited about cooking together.

This year, our meal had aromas of chopped pecans, brown sugar, vanilla, lots of garlic, fresh rosemary and cranberries, and it was beautifully colorful.

We had rosemary & garlic roast, that was marinated the evening before with salt, minced & whole garlic, pepper and rosemary springs. The next day it was cooked with baby potatoes, carrots and celery for about 2 1/2 hours. It was so flavorful and tender, and I ended up eating more meat than I am accustomed to.

For the first time, instead of white mashed potatoes, we had baked sweet mashed potatoes topped with a pecan, vanilla, brown sugar and butter crust,  and I wondered why I had never eaten it before.

What can I say about the cranberry sauce we had? It was the first time I had homemade cranberry sauce, do you believe that? Maybe that's the reason I did not like it before. Fresh organic cranberries, the sweetness of freshly squeezed orange juice, some sugar, perfect consistency and texture. It is most likely we will be making it again, and again, so delicious it was.

Coconut and pineapple custard topped with homemade meringue. I could not imagine a simpler dessert, and yet so delicious. Unfortunately, I forgot to take some pictures for the blog, bummer!
I apologize. I'll share the recipe with photos soon. I promise.

November 23, 2014

DIY Round Placemat Set

My sister Maria Olímpia gave me the best gifts ever. She knew I like handmade stuff, and every time I went back to Brazil to visit my family she would give me something special.

One of these gifts was a set of handmade round placemats made out of cardboard and fabric. I use them on our everyday meals a lot, and to keep them looking good I just use a slightly damp cloth.

This year, I decided to make new ones giving them a decorative Christmas flair. This is such an effortless and economical way to add style and charm to a table, and I love them.

While I used Cynthia Rowley napkins to make my new placemat set, grab any beautiful fabric you can get your hands on.

  • cardboard - the best type to use is dense cardboard, usually found in craft and/or art supply stores, they are strong and not too thick. Do not use cake round boards as they are made out of corrugated cardboard, and their rough edges will show and they will look shabby.
  • round template - I used a round tray
  • fabric of your choice 
  • craft glue - modge podge is the best for this project
  • foam brush
  • pen 
  • scissors

Step One: Trace the round template onto the back of the fabric.

Step Two: Carefully cut out the circles.

Step Three: Use the foam brush to spread the glue onto each circle onto the cardboard, and glue the fabric to the cardboard.

Whether you are looking to add them to your placemat collection, this quick and one-of-a-kind DIY placemats can be the perfect hostess gift.

November 12, 2014

DIY using paint & tapes

Here is my latest little DIY project,  just mixing and matching acrylic paint, washi and fabric tapes to turn boring plastic cutlery into cute embellished ones. A fun way to jazz them up.

"And if you use washi tapes on the ends? I've seen some spoons customized with them."

That was my friend asking me to to bring some party cheer to a bunch of plastic spoons and forks for her daughter's birthday party, and she was right, we all have seen some diy using washi tapes to embellish spoons & forks, but I thought of adding a little pizzazz to this idea by adding paint and just details of tapes to customize them to her party's theme and color scheme, and it turned out an incredibly simple and fun project to make.

What you'll need: water based non-toxic acrylic craft paint, paintbrush, washi and/or fabric tapes, and a pair of scissors.

Paint the ends first, I did only one coat with a few retouches. Use tapes in different colors and patterns, choosing between a subtle combo or something a bit bolder. Use scissors to trim the tape off neatly.

Plastic cutlery is disposable, but these embellished ones can be reused if you wash their ends carefully, it's up to you, and by the way, this idea can be applied to wooden cutlery as well.

Sweet, simple and easy, that's how I like diy!

October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Shaped Chocolate Truffles - Pumpkin Shaped Brigadeiros

If I could I would, but I can't. Admittedly, I would love to, but that's not my reality, not right now, maybe one day, who knows?
I'm talking about having more time to dedicate to things I love to do, like cooking, gardening, taking photos, reading, blogging, and so on. Like this post, I wanted to have published it I a few days ago, but it dos not matter now, the important thing is that I could do it this morning.

I got inspired to make these pumpkin shaped candies when I saw this post  by my friend Marly, I thought it was such a cute idea. I did not follow her recipe though, instead I made Brigadeiros. Remember them? Only this time I used white chocolate powder and food coloring to make them look like pumpkins.

Pumpkin Shaped Chocolate Truffles / Brigadeiros
Makes about 20 candies

 6 tablespoon white chocolate powder
 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
 1 tablespoon of salted butter
 Food coloring (combine yellow & red to achieve the orange color)
 Orange sugar crystals
 Semi-sweet morsels to decorate

Mix the condensed milk, chocolate powder, butter, and food coloring in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat stirring constantly (this is important) until the mixture becomes thick and shiny, and starts to pull away from the bottom and sides of the pan.

Remove from the heat and immediately pour the mixture into a plate greased with butter.

The mixture needs to be cooled off completely before being rolled into small balls. I like to place it in the refrigerator to speed up this process.

To make it easy to roll the mixture, you can either lightly rub some softened butter on your palm hands, or wet them with cold water. Using a small spoon scoop out the chocolate mixture and roll it into small balls between your palms.

Roll each ball in the sugar crystals and place them in paper candy cups. To make the pumpkin shape press the top gently, and with a slightly wet toothpick  make creases all around it. The finishing touch is to place a chocolate morsel on top of each candy to resemble stems.

Happy Halloween! Have Fun Everybody!

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