Monday, December 21, 2009

Wrapped in Mystery

This is going to seem specifically targeted towards the extreme fanatic of a certain ABC primetime program.  In a way it is, but it can be applied towards any number of items.  It's only as restricted as your imagination! 

As is the case every Christmas, my brother and I skip the idea of surprising one another with a gift and buy exactly what the other sibling has requested.  It is a foolproof method that eliminates both disappointment and curiosity simultaneously from our gift exchange. 

We both share a love for the TV show Lost, and the 5th Season was recently released on DVD.  It seemed the perfect gift for him to give me.  Due to a timing issue, I had to be the one to purchase it.  When it was delivered, I knew I would need to wrap it in order to have something to open from him on Christmas.  It felt a little silly to be wrapping my own gift, so I decided to have some fun with it. 

I've been trying to be green with my gift wrapping this year.  I have used gift bags from Christmas past, baskets, stockings and even newspaper.  With ribbons, bows, feathers and other eclectic scraps of material, it is possible to make any wrapping look festive.  As I was cutting my way through the local paper, an ad with a bunch of bold green numbers caught my eye, and the wheels started turning!  Only a Lost viewer would understand the significance of numbers to the show's plot, but it seemed "fated" for me to use them in my package presentation. ;) A green ribbon added the right amount of Christmas cheer to the finished product.   Lost may be full of mystery, but it's no mystery what's inside that box!  It is a little cheesey, but that seems to be what's called for when you are wrapping your own gift.

However this method could work in any situation.  If you want to give your loved one an inkling about what might be inside the box you've given them, include a hint in your wrapping.  If you bought them Desperate Housewives on DVD, design a snowwoman holding an apple on the gift tag.  Did you buy your little cousin his first Swiss Army Knife?  Use red wrapping paper and a white ribbon to cross the present.  There are a million ways to provide clues that can either whisper or shout the contents of any package.  Have fun with it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Wreath

I had a sad looking blank spot on my wall that was just screaming for a little holiday cheer.  I decided that I would have to use what was on hand since all the holiday money I had budgeted for the week went towards the Gingerbread House.  So, I went to the closet to rumage for something suitable.  I found some old shelf paper that was a green and blue plaid pattern.  I cut a few strips and went to work peeling and sticking it onto the floral ring I had.  I was not pleased with the outcome.  For one thing, the pattern just was not going to seem festive without some embellishment, and coming up with the embellishment would be a challenge in itself.  But even more disappointing was the way the paper kept puckering.  This was not going to work, so I went back to my closet for more inspiration.

I was going through my fabric bag and found the feather boa my friend bought for a Halloween costume this year.  It was the right color and would be super easy to attach to the ring.  I had my winner!  I simply wrapped the boa around the ring and tucked the ends to keep it in place.  The great thing about this is that I will be able to easily remove the boa when the wreath comes down, and it will survive to craft another day!  I wound some thick green ribbon around the top and secured it with a straight pin.  I had to use a thumb tack to hang it on the wall, but the ribbon does a perfect job of hiding that.  It was lacking a little oomph, so I went to my bow box, found the most glitzy of the bunch, and stuck it on the top with double sided tape.

I will admit that this wreath is not for everyone.  It is pretty dramatic; some might even say over the top.  But it was so easy to make and it makes me smile when I walk by it.  Who could have known that what adorned the devil from Halloween would be spreading cheer at Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

1st Annual Decorating of the Gingerbread

Long time, no post.  Seems time goes into warp speed in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There has been no shortage of inspiration at this time of the year, just a lack of time to write about it!  I think a new tradition was born today, however, and that deserves some attention.  Three friends and I got together to make gingerbread houses.  Though husbands wanted to participate we made it a girls only activity.  That gave us a chance to catch up as we created our masterpieces. 

We chose to focus most of our energies on decorating, so we used pre-made kits.  We have one baker in our group, and making all that gingerbread alone would have been too time consuming.  The kits worked just fine.  They came with candy, but we all pitched in our own sweet accessories.  The required gundrops, M&Ms, candy canes, marshmellows and Chiclets were present.  And just to be different I brought along pretzel sticks and golden puffed cereal.  I used the cereal for a roof, and my friend used the pretzel sticks to create a log cabin motif.  It's fascinating how using the exact same materials, everyone comes up with something different. 

As a general rule we all give each other a hard time, so when someone went outside the bounds of "eye pleasing" there was some good natured ribbing.  My house ended up looking "earthy" with a frightening snowman hanging out in the backyard.  But no one had a  perfect house, and that was what made it so fun.  It's about freeing yourself from the confinements of perfection and just enjoying time together.

The holidays are so stressful for adults because of all the responsibility that falls on us to make the perfect meal, the perfect centerpiece, find and perfectly wrap the perfect gift. It's exhausting.  Maybe we should embrace the spirit of playfulness with all the aspects of holiday preparation.  Then we could enjoy the season like we did as children.  I highly recommend a festive activity with loved ones to help capture the spirit! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Everyone is in a New Moon Swoon

The Twilight Saga New Moon shattered box office records on its opening weekend leaving detractors no room to deny its mass appeal.  Though it is a franchise that appeals mainly to females of the teenage persuassion, no movie could make this large of an impact without having some adults (and maybe even a few males) partaking in the madness.  Confession.....I went to see it myself on Saturday.  Yes, I have embraced my inner 15 year old!  And she is loving the angst driven, highly emotional fantasy that brings vampires, werewolves and vulnerable humans together in the American Northwest of all places.

My mom has been heavy into jewelry making lately, and it's rubbed off a bit.  Drawing on some inspiration from the focus of New Moon's leading man, Jacob Black, I made a tribal necklace that anyone with dramatic flair, Twihard or no, can enjoy.  Jacob is a member of the Quileute Tribe which is an important part of his identity.  The silver feathers are of course an homage to Native American roots while also being one of the fashion world's favorite accessory.  The latest development in Jacob's world is his new werewolf status, so there was no question of having a howling wolf charm to adorn this necklace.  The perfect backdrop for these items had to be a textured disc that vaguely suggests both the moon and the wolfpack tatoo.  I wanted the references to be subtle, so that anyone could appreciate the piece. But the inspiration needed to shine through at the same time.

It is listed on my Etsy page as of now.  However, I am liking the look of it so much, that I won't be too upset if it does not sell.  I might want to keep this one for myself!!   

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DIY Bubble Wrap Insulation

All the cold rain we have been having lately got me thinking about how to stay warm this winter without taking a major hit in the pocketbook.  Since it is also Green Week, I've been considering how to reduce my environmental impact as well.  After some research online, it turns out bubble wrap is the perfect solution to all these concerns.  Popular in actual green houses as well as homes just trying to be a little greener, applying bubble wrap to windows is an easy way to insulate and keep those heating bills under control.  That not only keeps me warm and toasty when it's cold outside for less money, it reduces my energy consumption.  That is what they call a win/win.

The cost of bubble wrap is minimal, but I had some just laying around.  It also happened to be a pretty lavender color, which was a plus from a decorative standpoint.  The greatest thing about this project was the simplicity.  All that's needed is an exacto knife and water.  Seriously.  Spray down the window panels with water, apply the bubble wrap (bubble side down), and cut to fit.  Done. 

I am really pleased with the results so far. The afternoon sun comes in through the kitchen door, and I crave any natural light I can get.  I worried that the bubble wrap would interfere with that.  In fact, it actually solved a problem.  I can keep my blinds up at all times because the bubble wrap distorts the view giving me privacy.  That is a huge benefit when it comes to apartment living!! 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Menu Holder

You know that drawer in the kitchen that collects all the "stuff" that just doesn't have anywhere else to go?  Well, I don't have one because my apartment is stingy with its cabinets and drawers.  But that does not mean I don't have the "stuff".  For example, take out menus.  There are days when cooking dinner feels like it would drain the last drop of energy right out of my body.  That's when it's time for some General Tso's...or pizza...or an eggplant parm sub.  So many options, and so many menus.  I got tired of looking at those menus piled on my fridge.  The solution came in the form of Starry Night.  The gift bag of Van Gogh's classic work was sitting in my gift wrapping box just begging to be displayed in some way.  I stuck a push pin in my kitchen wall, hung the bag from it, and in went the menus.  Voila!  A cute way to keep my take out menus handy.  And when I get tired of Van Gogh, I can easily switch out the bag.  But I don't see that happening anytime soon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

S is for Sesame Street

It would be remiss of me to ignore the 40th anniversary of the remarkable children's program Sesame Street.  Though it is a staple for those under the age of 10, this 20 something cannot deny the sheer joy of watching some of the classic videos on youtube today.  The songs were as familiar to me now as they ever were...Ernie singing about his rubber duckie, Cookie Monster singing about the virtues of healthy food, The Count singing Batty Bats.  Good times! 

When I try to pinpoint what it is about this show that makes such an indelible impression on young kids, I can't quite come up with a succinct answer.  But I think it has something to do with merging possibility and reality, imagination and facts, laughter and learning.  What I do know for sure is that it was an enjoyable part of my childhood and has as much merit now as it did in its first season.   So to the most popular street in America I say....

Happy Birthday!  And thanks for all the inspiration!

(This posting brought to you by the letter S)