Tag Archives: gifts

Halloween Wish List

14 Sep

I’m a little late this year (last year I posted my Halloween wish list on September 9th), but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been browsing Halloween sections of stores and websites for weeks already.  True fact: Jo-Ann’s had Halloween stuff out the first week of August.

For those of you who are a little more patient in acquiring your Halloween goods, I’m here to help you out with a few of my favorite 2012 Halloween finds.

Wire Bat String Lights from Pottery Barn

Halloween Appetizer Plates from Williams-Sonoma

Haunted House Door Panel from Jo-Ann Fabrics

“Try the Dip” Kitchen Towel from Kohl’s

Vintage Inspired Halloween Figures from World Market (so far my favorite collection this year)

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Halloween Glass from Ralph’s

Bought this last one at Ralph’s – $1 each!  I’ll be going back for more.  They have bowls,too.

You can also follow all my Halloween inspiration on Pinterest.

What’s your favorite new Halloween goodie?

~april

 

 

 

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FTW Wednesday: Halloween

7 Sep

FTW(ednesday)

About the beginning of September halfway through August, I start getting super excited about Halloween.  I usually get so excited that by October 10th I’m all Halloweened out… well, not too badly.  I love perusing the typical Halloween superstores that pop up in abandoned Kmart’s, but I’m most excited about seeing what regular stores choose to showcase for the season.  While I reserve the right to complain in a month when Christmas stuff appears three months before the holiday, right now I’m thrilled that commercial America is ready to celebrate my favorite time of year.

For this week’s FTW Wednesday, here are some of the coolest Halloween goodies in your local chains already:

Green Apple Light-Up Coffin Soap from Bath and Body Works

Unwelcome Sign from Target

Halloween Appetizer Plates from Williams-Sonoma

Skeleton-Hand Drink Dispenser from Pottery Barn

Black Cat Measuring Spoons from Sur la Table

Wooden Devil and Mummy Ornaments from Pier 1

Where are your favorite places to shop for Halloween goodies?

~April

Clay Impression Pendants

4 Feb

Not so long, Robin posted about her enabling roommate, Sara.  I would like to say, for the record, that she was totally the pot that called the kettle black.  Thanks to her experimentation, I too have fallen prey to that hard street drug they call “polymer clay.”

It started with a simple idea, which I think has been done somewhere and probably successfully, but my grand plan was not so successful.  I wanted to make up some goodies for my swap partner and Robin seemed to be having so much fun with Sculpey that I thought I’d give it a try, too.  I was going to make a leaf pendant with one color clay on the inside.  Then, I would wrap that clay in a thin layer of a second color and scratch off the outer layer in an outline of a leaf.  It did kind of work, but the end result couldn’t even be passed off as kitschy or rustic.  I’ve seen more interesting jewelry from five-year-olds.

Instead of giving up and tossing out all my newly bought clay, I started rolling out thin pendants of clay and making impressions in them.   Look, I know this isn’t anything revolutionary, but I was impressed with myself for thinking it up without obsessively checking out all the polyclay tutorials I could possibly find on the net.

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I made the first batch by making impressions from a bracelet I bought at a winery.  I loved all the designs on it, but the bracelet broke and I never remember to buy a new clasp for it.

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After that batch, I used a necklace to make a lacy impression in the clay. In this one, I pushed in an eye pin so I didn’t have to make a hole, then cut trimmed the ends up a bit to center the design and square it up a bit.

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Of these, I particularly like the one with the silver beads. The background was made by rolling a screw over the clay. Then, I placed the beads in to look like gears. The other pendants were all made using a clear stamp set I rushed off to purchase while I was still heavily under the influence of clay fumes.

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The pendant on the left was made by rolling that little  pine cone (it’s from a Giant Sequoia) over the surface for texture and then adding my little leaf.  I made the colorful pendant on the right by first stamping the impression, and then adding little bits of clay to fill it in.  The result isn’t perfect, but I think It’s more interesting than the plain version.  The little flower on the bottom right is destined to be an earring.

To finish them off, I baked them as per instructions and applied glaze.  After that, I just attached a jump ring and a clasp.  Since I have so many (and I sent a few to my swap partner) I chose an easy way to switch out pendants.  With the clasp I can just attach them to whatever chain I’m wearing, or even add a couple to the same chain.

So, yes.  I’m a little addicted to playing with clay right now.  Thanks for not judging me.

~april

Christmas Gifts: Canning

4 Jan

2010 canning

Every year I seem to get a little bit better at giving handmade.  I think it’s because my repertoire of handmade gifts is slowly expanding.  It began with knitting.  Last year I gave some sewn gifts and this year I added canning to the mix.  Who knows? I might be building people houses by next year.

Each month I want to share a roundup of crafty things I’ve been working on.   Whenever I come up with amazingawesomeincrediblefantastic original projects, I’ll post them up here on their own, but anything I’ve pulled from a pattern or recipe will just have to share their posts.

To start that tradition out, I’m sharing some of the Christmas craftiness I indulged in this year.  Since Christmas is such a crafty time, I’m going to split this installment into two posts, starting with my canned goods.

This was my first year canning.  The picture at the top of the post shares the fruits of my year’s worth of labor.  Obviously there were a lot of failures.  A whole day’s worth of canning one weekend left me with one jar of berry jam and a pot full of exploded zucchini salsa.  The one jar I did save didn’t even taste all that great.  I didn’t discover the awesomeness of half-pint sized jars until about 2 weeks before Christmas so a lot of my ventures ended with one large jar of jam.  Now that I’ve discovered the increased gift-giving (and jam-keeping) potential of the smaller jars I think this pile will triple for next year’s presents.

There are a ton of beautiful jam labels out there, but I decided to go the cheapo route.  I didn’t want to buy a new color cartridge for my computer (well, I did, but I didn’t want to spend the money on it) so I just cut out circles of my sadly neglected scrapbooking paper and slapped it on the jar with double-sided tape.

Here are the different types of goodies and links to recipes:
Lemon ginger 2
Actually Easy Lemon Ginger Marmalade

Anytime someone tells you marmalade is easy I suggest you laugh heartily in their face. While the actual cooking of the marmalade is easy (and this recipe turned out much more marmaladey than my other attempt), the prep is unavoidably cumbersome. The finished product was yummy though despite my suspicions that it didn’t cook long enough to make the peel soft and my fear that the ginger might be too clumpy.

Chocolate pear
Pear and Chocolate Jam

I made a ton of this stuff because… who doesn’t love chocolate (besides my coworker who’s allergic – how sad!)? The recipe was super quick and simple, if not detailed.

Cole mugging

My cat decided he couldn’t have me taking pictures without climbing up on the shelves and getting involved.

Orange carrot marmalade
Carrot and Orange Marmalade (from Preserving the Harvest)

This recipe turned out a little watery and took way more time than the Ginger, but for one of my first attempts at canning it was a success.

Spicy pickled carrots
Spicy Pickled Carrots

I haven’t had a chance to try these yet, but I cannot wait. A few weeks a go I had a vegetarian bahn mi sandwich from the Nom Nom Truck. I sliced them pretty thin so these carrots would go great on a sandwich like that. I’m also hoping to put them on tacos and just eating them straight from the jar. Only another week or two…

Nutella
Heavenly Chocolate Hazelnut Almond Spread

I think this may have been the most successful gift (in my mind anyway). It was super easy, came out perfectly and allowed me to use my new food processor. I used grapeseed oil in my first batch rather than canola and liked that better. Maybe just because I prefer grapeseed oil. It wasn’t technically canned, but according to the giftees it wouldn’t have lasted long in the cupboard anyway. Some people used it on popcorn and I dipped homemade soft pretzels into it so it’s versatile, too!

Next up from me: the rest of my Christmas crafting.

~ April