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Posted by on Dec 10, 2012 | 0 comments

Three Handmade Ornaments to Give or Keep

Three Handmade Ornaments to Give or Keep

When I heard the call for handmade ornament donations from the Del Ray Artisans for their Fine Art & Craft Holiday Market, my creative wheels started spinning. I’ve contributed a few of my creations to the sale, and in the process, came up with some projects that the kids could do too. In fact, these projects are suited to a range of skill levels: easy requiring very little crafting know-how to slightly more involved projects requiring simple crochet, hand sewing, knitting, and embroidery work. Yarn Basket with Tiny Knitting Needles Using scrap yarn, I followed this free Ravelry pattern. I didn’t bother with a gauge and used whatever worsted weight scrap yarn seemed appealing. After doing the first one, I improvised a bit on the length and height of the baskets until it looked right to me. With more scrap yarn, some fingering weight (thinner), I rolled tiny balls and glued the ends down with craft glue. The girls helped me glue tiny beads to the ends of toothpicks....

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Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 | 4 comments

Handmade Advent Calendars to Use Year After Year

Handmade Advent Calendars to Use Year After Year

Every year, I think I’d like to make an advent calendar to use year after year. I finally did, but just under the wire. I finished it Friday night, the last day of November. Katie got in on the action too and made one to hang on Saturday, the first day on the countdown to Christmas. Katie’s Upcycled Advent Calendar The goal for my Advent calendar was to use supplies I had on hand and spend as little money as possible. My inspiration came from pinterest using clothespins and small packages made out of paper. I had to buy the clothespins, but that was okay because I can find other uses for them after Advent. I wanted to secure the clothespins to a board, but I didn’t have a piece of scrap wood the right size, so I opted to use an empty picture frame and some string. To secure the string to the frame, I purchased 6 picture framing hooks from the hardware store for $.37/each. I followed an origami tutorial to...

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Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 | 2 comments

Winter Planting As an Act of Faith

Winter Planting As an Act of Faith

Would you plant this? I should rephrase that. Would you buy it and then plant it? My neighbor Elin did with the absolute faith and certainty that the plant will emerge in the spring healthy and green and beautiful. Her trust comes from knowing that the nursery where she purchased the plant is Nature by Design, a terrific native plant nursery tucked away off of Calvert Street in Del Ray. The owners really know their stuff and they’ll go to great lengths to educate customers about native plant choices. In a nutshell, native plants are desirable because they meet the needs, including food and cover, of native wildlife without causing long-term damage to local plant communities. When I wanted to find butterfly and bee attracting plants that are shade-loving and native, they emailed me a long list of options. When you buy plants in the late fall, early winter, like us, you’re rushing to get something in the ground before the first frost. So, you buy something that looks...

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Posted by on Nov 27, 2012 | 0 comments

Fun, Creative, and Memorable Holiday Photo Cards

Fun, Creative, and Memorable Holiday Photo Cards

It’s not an easy feat to get a nice family portrait during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Believe me, I’ve been there, with the camera propped on a chair on auto-timer, and the husband, squirmy kids, and the family pet ready to make a dash for it. But, if you don’t want to hire a professional (that’s a great idea too), there are ways to create a nice portrait of you, your kids, or the whole family to use in your holiday cards. Spontaneous Group Shots My most favorite family shots have been ones I’ve asked a friend to take on the spur of the moment. Here’s one of our family on a visit to Rockefeller Center. Do an On-Location Shoot with a Camera-Savvy Friend One year, my brother-in-law used our camera to take photos of us in various locations in Old Town.  Old Town is a great local location since you can stroll up many of the quaint cobblestone streets. We used one of the Shutterfly...

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Posted by on Nov 20, 2012 | 1 comment

Spy-Themed Birthday Party

Spy-Themed Birthday Party

After visiting the Spy Museum in DC, my daughter Ana announced she wanted a “spy party” for her 9th birthday celebration. I did some research online but didn’t find much. So, we brainstormed the kinds of activities she saw at the museum and together, came up with a plan. Our mission accomplished, here’s how it went down: The Cake and Decor. First, I didn’t decorate the house at all this year. It was hard “letting go” of the need to put out the coordinated tableclothes, plates, napkins, a birthday banner (bought or homemade), balloons, and so on. But for this party, it didn’t seem fitting.  Ana made her cake with her friend Bea under the supervision of Bea’s Mom, the super talented pastry baker of P.S. Cakes. Like last year, Ana designed the cake, made the spy-themed fondant accents (moustache and footprints), iced it, and put the piping around the sides. The prologue. Ana was expecting seven friends total to come to her party and she wanted everyone to be...

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