Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Little Brightness to Ring in the New Year

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Well, here we are, on New Year’s Eve, a time to reflect on the year we’re leaving behind and to look ahead to the promise of the days to come. My favorite way to celebrate New Year’s Eve is to gather with a few close friends for a cozy evening of good food, conversation, and to raise a glass or two to ring in the new year. Everyone brings the kids along, and they have their own celebration, which usually involves a movie, video games, and pizza. I love it…it’s super mellow and always fun.

When we’re hosting, I always go through the ritual of lighting candles in the dining room and living room, and even along our front walk outside to welcome guests. I keep it simple, sticking to basic tea lights in votives or old canning jars. But I have to have candles…I just love the glow they add to a room after twilight.

So, in honor of New Year’s Eve, I made this pretty flower votive, using some of my favorite patterned paper, Mod Podge, and a square glass vase I had stashed in the back of my pantry. I love how it turned out, and it was so easy to make. In fact, if you have the supplies onhand, I bet you could make one now and enjoy it tonight. Here’s how:

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  1. Use a tape measure to measure around all sides of the vase. Make note of the measurement. Now use a yardstick to measure the same distance along one edge of the patterned paper.
  2. Place the vase along the edge of the  paper, aligning the top edge of the vase with the top edge of the paper. Use a straight edge to mark the bottom of the vase.
  3. Set the vase aside and use a pencil to draw a line across the paper, using the straight edge to guide you.

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3. Cut along the line you’ve just drawn. To test the fit, wrap the cut strip of paper around the vase to cover all sides. (Mine was a little short, so I cut an extra strip to cover the final corner, below.)

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4. Using a small paint brush, apply an even layer of Mod Podge to one side of the vase.

5. Aligning the top and bottom edges of the patterned paper to the top and bottom of the vase and the right edge of the paper along the right edge of the vase, carefully press the paper against the Mod Podge, smoothing out any wrinkles with your fingers.

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6. Turn the vase and apply Mod Podge to the next side, working your way around the vase.

7. Once the sides of the vase are completely covered in paper, trim any excess paper from the final edge. Apply another layer of Mod Podge to the entire surface and allow to dry. Spray with a waterproof sealer to finish. (Although I’ve cheated and skipped this step, because I couldn’t wait to use the votive). Add a tea light and enjoy!

Note: This same project would work with a round votive with flat sides (meaning not a jar that tapers for the lid).

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Happy New Year, everyone! I hope it’s cozy and bright. Stay tuned for more fun projects and insights in 2016.

 

Upcycling Holiday Cards

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Call me old fashioned, but I still love sending out traditional holiday cards via snail mail. And although I stopped writing a personal note by hand in each card years ago, we still include a letter that recaps our year and each of us signs every card. One thing I love about this tradition is that we get quite a few holiday cards in return. Enough to create a garland of cards along one wall in our dining room, in fact. Rather than stuff them into a basket or drawer, never to be seen again, my clever husband came up with the idea of hanging a strand of red and white baker’s twine along the wall between the kitchen and dining room. The cards, hung with paperclips, were now readily visible and added a colorful border to an otherwise undecorated space. This year is no different, as you can see from the photo above.

But what happens to the cards after the holiday season? Well, being the sentimental type, I have a hard time throwing those sweet greetings from friends all over the country in the recycling bin. So I stash them in our desk drawer, where they sit for a year or more, until I find them, come to my senses, and toss them.

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Now, though, I find myself in the heart of the holiday gift wrapping frenzy, so today I began to scour my stationary collections for possible gift tags. And, you can guess what I pulled out…sure enough, a stack of holiday cards from 2013, ready for a little upcycling.

So, I pulled out my 1.5-inch hole punch (if you have a slightly larger size, that would be even better!), my standard hole punch, that same baker’s twine we use to string the cards along our wall, and some plain white paper. Then I went to work.

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In a few minutes time, I had a good stash of tags, ready to embellish and identify gifts. (Note: I used the white paper punched circles on the back side of the patterned circles for writing the names of gift recipients. I didn’t bother to glue them, as I liked the idea of simply flipping the tag up and reading it like a book.)

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Voila! My first gift of the season, wrapped and finished with an upcycled holiday card tag. Happy Holidays, everyone!