Archive for December, 2012


Christmas isn’t allowed to be over yet. I am hanging on to the holiday season for at least a few more days. Not taking down my decorations, exchanging a few last presents, and continuing to write blog posts about the holidays. Everyone will just have to deal, because I am sad that Christmas is another year away again, and it’s all cold and I have a cold too. Haha.

Anyway, I wanted to share my gingerbread house. I made it from a kit, but it’s a twist on the standard design, and I had a lot of fun decorating it one night. It turned out so cute that I have yet to eat it, but it will probably be stale once I try it anyway.

Gingerbread House

Along similar lines, I made cinnamon ornaments. A friend in high school (10 years ago!) gave me one she’d made, and I loved it and still have it, and it still smells great. So I wanted to do something similar.

The formula is basically:

  • 1 cup cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup applesauce

And I added some ground cloves and a bit of glue as well to help keep them together and for a bit of a mix of scents. Then mix and knead the dough for a while. Roll out about 1/3 of the dough at a time and use holiday shaped cookie cutters to cut out the shapes and put them onto a cookie sheet. I added the scraps from each batch to the next round of dough to get as many as possible out of it. I didn’t have any drinking straws to make holes, so I just used toothpicks to hollow out spots, which worked pretty well.

Cinnamon Ornaments

I put them in a 170 degree oven for a few hours, but some started to crack and warp, so most of the time they just air dried in my kitchen. It took about 2-3 days for them to fully dry and harden. And finally, I added ribbon to make them ornamental.

Cinnamon Ornaments

I attached most of them as accessories to gifts, kept a couple, and brought in a few for my coworkers in the office on Christmas Eve.

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A third and final 2012 reflection post. I saw these prompts and couldn’t resist reflecting on this year in yet another way. I can hardly believe all this is from just one year…

1. Me! – picture of yourself (you don’t have to show your face). What are you most proud of accomplishing in 2012? 

2. I Love You – picture of your husband, boyfriend, children, pets, etc. 

3. Still Laughing… – a moment you’re still laughing about now…tell us a story. 

Once upon a time (Memorial Day weekend), a girl and her boyfriend decided it would be fun to rent a jetski while visiting Detroit. The jetski turned out to be defective, and said girl was somewhat scared for her life. The Coast Guard rescued her while the boyfriend took the defective jetski back to the renter people, and they got their money back and lived happily ever after, except for the huge bruise on her leg that there’s still a mark from.
This picture of me with the coast guard captain just amuses me.

4. Winter Wonderland – a picture that reflects Winter.

5. Birthday – share a birthday picture (your own or someone you love). 

my friend Corinna hanging her birthday present

6. Friends – a picture with friends (this could be your friends or your children with their friends). 

7. I Was Inspired… – could be a picture of your inspiration (person or thing), or inspired by… 

This woman (named Corinna, coincidentally also a good friend of mine’s name) was my tour guide on a photography tour of London. I loved it – she inspired me to travel even more and to get a DSLR camera to take more creative/interesting pictures of wherever I am.

8. Spring Fever – a picture that reflects Spring.

 
Spring in London

9. Travel or Vacation – a picture taken on vacation or on a recent travel experience…even if it was only a few miles away.

Abbey Park in Leicester

10. Summer Days – a picture that reflects Summer. 

Deep fried snickers bar at the state fair.

11. A Day In My Life – a picture of a typical day in your life. 

Drinking hot chocolate at my computer out of my disappearing TARDIS mug. This reflects how much I love Doctor Who, as well as how I work in my office every day.

12. All Smiles – a picture that makes you smile or of smiling faces. 

This cat is just too adorable. Every time I see him lying on the floor like this (pretty much daily) it makes me smile.

13. Autumn Harvest – a picture that reflects Autumn/Fall. 

14. Family or Home – a picture of your family or a picture that represents family/home for you. 

A magnet on my grandma’s fridge.

15. Celebrate! – a picture that reflects a celebration. 

Fourth of July fireworks.

16. Let’s Do It Again… – a picture of something you’d like to do again soon. 

I’d like to go back to New York City. Maybe not “soon”, but there is so much to see and do, and my visit was too short.

17. I Miss You – a picture of someone or something you really miss. 

I miss these two. This picture also makes me smile.

18. Beautiful – a picture of someone or something you find beautiful. 

Gorgeous orchids from the boyfriend this fall.

19. Dress Up – this might be a picture from Halloween or not…but someone who is all dressed up! 

Revenge of the Nerds – Halloween at the office.

20. Macro – share your favorite macro or close-up image. 

21. Holidays – a picture from the Holiday of your choice. 

Ugly Sweater holiday contest at the office. 🙂

22. My Favorite – share your favorite picture or memory from 2012. 

View from a hot air balloon. What a big, beautiful world we live in.

23. Don’t Ever Change – something you love about yourself, someone, or something that you never want to change. 

My Jasmine is my favorite cat in the whole world. She comforts me daily. I love her SO much, she is perfect to me and I hope her cuddly, purry, sweet, adorable self never changes.

My 2012 in Pictures

I posted a few pictures in my year in review post, but I’ve loved this year and wanted to expand on that and do a photo-only 2012 post as well. After my UK trip, I was inspired to get a DSLR camera, and I have since taken a LOT more pictures. I narrowed them down to 20 photographs, highlighting my important moments and a few of my favorite pictures. Very few of these have been posted on my blog, and no crafty/foodie stuff is included, because I wanted this all to be new and different to my readers.

Click on any one to see it larger and see the caption.

Though there are still a few days left, The Daily Post challenged us to write a wrap up of the year. So, here are my annual year-end reflection questions. I had a pretty fantastic year.

What did you do in 2012 that you have never done before?
Visited the UK – saw London, a couple of my British friends, and a Doctor Who convention! I had also never been to New York City before, met Julie Andrews, been on a hot air balloon ride, visited the Art Institute or the big reflective bean in Chicago, or met any of the cast of Buffy.

New York CIty

At the top of Rockefeller Center with my favorite part of NYC behind me – Central Park.

Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions and will you be making more?
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If I want to do something, I do it, no matter what time of year it is.

What date from 2012 will remain in your memory and why?
Valentine’s Day, the beginning of the boyfriend getting me flowers and being sweet even though he hates holidays. 🙂

What was your biggest achievement of 2012?
Creating this WordPress blog!

What was your biggest failure?
Some of my craft projects that didn’t turn out as well as I would’ve liked. But you live, you learn!

What political issue stirred you the most?
Probably gay marriage. Did you know interracial marriage was still illegal in the state of Alabama until the year 2000? Just sayin’.

Saddest memory of the year?
My friends Matt, Aryn, and Shannon moving a couple months ago. Still really miss them.

Happiest memory of the year?

The two weddings I was in or attended for my friend and cousin this summer. They seem to have married great guys.

Top 5 movies?

1. The Dark Knight Rises

2. Brave

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

5. Game Change

What did you get really, really excited about?
The holidays, and traveling. 😀

Right now I’m excited about my west coast trip in a couple of months.

Compared with this time last year are you . . .
Happier or sadder? probably a little sadder
Thinner or fatter? I’d guess about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same
Healthier or sicker? about the same

How will or did you spend Christmas?
Drove up to my grandparents’ place for a family dinner. I only got Christmas day off. But my mom came on the 23rd and we saw The Nutcracker and exchanged presents then as well. And I had a Christmas with my dad and his wife about two weeks ago.

How did you spend your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 24 this year. Yay even numbers! My game night friends and I had dinner and drinks at Houlihan’s, one of my very favorite places.

What kept you sane?
Weekends, my kitty, my craft projects.

What vacations did you take?
The UK in March and NYC in October – that’s more than last year!

A view of London with the London Eye and Big Ben

What is your greatest hope for 2013?
Same as last year – to keep my job and have more happy times. And more traveling.

Holiday Greeting Card Wreath

Everyone likes to display all the lovely Christmas cards they get during the season, but what do you do once Christmas is over? Put them in a box somewhere? Throw them out?

Why not make them into a wreath to be displayed the next year?

Holiday Greeting Card Wreath

I love Christmas cards, so I decided to upcycle them into a fun wreath. All you really need is the cards, a flat wreath form, and a glue stick. I found this 12″ wreath at Michael’s for $2 – you could also cut cardboard into a circle, but I decided to go the simpler route.

You’ll also need to find some round objects of varying sizes to trace circles around. I used a reindeer coaster, snowflake glass, and a large glue stick for the little circles.

It’s best to pick a theme of colors. My cards definitely weren’t all uniform or anything, but I went with a blue/white theme with accents of red and green, so it wouldn’t all clash.

Greeting Card Wreath Supplies

Then just start tracing and cutting.

Cutting Circles out of Cards

Arrange your circles in the pattern you want them, then glue them on a section at a time.

Gluing on Circles

Finally, add a ribbon for hanging.

Holiday Greeting Card Wreath

I have been playing with the idea of upcycling other cards, too, like birthdays. You could make other forms of art, not just wreaths. I’ll let you know if I make any more upcycled card crafts. 🙂

Candy-Coated Pretzel Wreaths

This is one of those cute things that people ooh and aah over and go, “You MADE those?! How?” And it’s actually pretty simple, just takes some time as all dipped/decorated things do.

Candy-Coated Holiday Pretzel Wreaths

I took these pretzel wreaths to my office’s Christmas Pitch-In, the same day I brought my twinkly green lantern ornament. And they were a hit! A great finger food for a party dessert. Here’s how I made them:

  • mini pretzel twists
  • meltable candy drops (you can also use chocolate chips of any sort, anything that will dip and re-harden)
  • twizzler pull-apart licorice
  • decorative green edible gel (optional)

First, arrange six pretzels in a circle (or seven if you want a bigger wreath… or just can’t count like me), big hole out and two-hump side in (the direction is important for how they’ll look)

Pretzel Wreath

Follow the directions on the candy melting package, or just microwave and stir for 30 seconds at a time until candy/chocolate is melted. Dip each pretzel, then put it back in the circle arrangement.

Pretzel Dipped Wreath

Next, before the candy on the bottom has hardened, dip six more pretzels and place them in a second layer on top, alternating so each pretzel goes between two on the first layer. Repeat this until the dipping stuff runs out.

Candy Pretzel Wreaths

After the wreaths are all solid, next comes the ribbon. This took a little bit of trial and error for me. My larger wreaths were too big for the length of the twizzlers, but the normal sized ones were just the right size to weave a strand in and out through the wreath. I tied a bow with another strand and stuck it on top. They aren’t actually attached, but they stay in place so it doesn’t really matter!

Candy Pretzel Wreaths

Then I added little decorative touches of holly and leaves/dots, just because I thought it would be cute. I used tiny bits of twizzler for the red holly berries and green cake decorating gel for the green stuffs.

Candy-Coated Holiday Pretzel Wreaths

Yay wreaths! And yes, they were as delicious as they were adorable!

I love Christmas lights; when I walk into a room filled with them, I feel like I’m in a magical fairy land. So even though we have a small tree, I added lights in a couple other spots in our apartment, along with some other decorations.

Our My Christmas tree, with its brown paper and word search packages.

christmas tree

A shiny ornament on the tree  (I have a bunch of self-portraits of me with a camera at this point)

Ornament self portrait

Mini stockings – most presents will be outside of the stockings and I just thought these were cute. The middle Hello Kitty one is for the kitties, naturally. And the boyfriend who likes Hello Kitty.

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Classic white lights around our sliding glass doors.

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And my favorite part – lights wrapped around the legs of the dining table.

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Word Search Wrapped Presents

This is how I wrapped most of my presents this year:

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The idea came from a random picture online without a source – it had larger paper that would wrap the whole present. Possibly there is somewhere you can buy custom wrapping paper like that. But I decided to go with the more practical and economical way of making my own word search, wrapping the presents in the standard brown paper (instead of covering up a lovely design on more expensive wrapping paper) and just putting the one piece of paper with the word search on top.

Word Search Wrapped Presents

I made my own word search using the names of all the people I was giving presents to using this one on Armored Penguin, printed it out and cut around just the word search, taped it on, and circled in red the name of the person or people whose gift it was.

It’s a fun idea for people who like words and putting a twist on tradition. 🙂

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Every year, my office has at least one holiday contest for our Christmas Pitch-in and party. Since I’ve been here, we’ve done desk decorations, ornaments, and ugly sweaters.

Computer Part Ornament

My entry for last year’s computer-themed ornament contest

This year, there’s a challenge to make your own ornament with a superhero theme. I won a cake boss contest a couple of months ago with a s’mores cake (I’ll post about that at some point!), but I have tried and failed several times to win a holiday contest. This year, I am trying again!

The person who won last year had an ornament that could light up, which seemed to wow everyone. So I figured that was the key. The nerdy boyfriend of mine came up with the idea of Green Lantern so it would make sense for it to light up, and I liked the idea and ran with it. Even if I haven’t yet seen the movie. It even fits with holiday colors!

Here’s how I made it:

  • plain plastic/glass ornament
  • mini LED lights with battery pack
  • AA batteries
  • green tissue paper
  • mod podge
  • foam brush
  • Green Lantern logo

First, I checked to make sure the lights worked (I learned the hard way that you should do this from putting lights on our office tree only to find out the whole strand was out!) Then, I stuffed the little lights into the ornament one by one.

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Next, I tore up the tissue paper into small pieces. I glued it on by brushing the mod podge only on the spot where I wanted to put a piece, placing it there, and continuing to the next spot until the ornament was covered.

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Then I printed out the Green Lantern logo, cut right around it, and mod podged that on, too. I picked an exact spot with a light so the lantern would light up. Finally, I added a ribbon to hang it up, and it was done! The lights blink, too, which is super fun!

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I didn’t have a lot of competition, but I did win the contest. 🙂

Christmas Cards

Now that it’s December and the magical holiday season is upon us, I plan on doing a lot more posts than usual, because I love it. A lot of them will be shorter, just showing off my decorations and holiday themed stuff, but my goal will be blogging 2-3 times a week this month. Yay!

First up, my Christmas cards. I had never had any interest in sending them before, but I like getting them. I bought these in January at Barnes & Noble for at least half off, and I thought they were adorable. The box only came with 14 cards, so I tried to limit it to mostly people I don’t see often who I thought might like one. If you got one, feel special. I may send out more next year.

Kitten Christmas Card

I kept it super simple by just writing a message in the store-bought cards.

inside of Christmas card

Most of my handwritten messages were a variation of, “I wish peace, love, and happiness to you this Christmas season.”

Christmas Card envelope

I love the envelopes they came with. And I got sheets of blank labels to print out the addresses and return addresses, and bought holiday themed stamps, too.

So excited was I to send my first Christmas cards that I had them ready to go by Thanksgiving, and I mailed them out the weekend after. I’m looking forward to getting a few from my friends as well!