Monday, November 28, 2011

Gardener's Gift Baskets

 "The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that 
they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied.  They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before."

~ Vita Sackville-West ~

I love giving gift baskets ~ they're more than just pretty.  It takes time and effort to put one together.  It means a lot to your loved one that you thought about their interests and composed a special combination of gifts for them.  

Maybe you have a few garden enthusiasts on your list this year.  Regardless if they're novices or well-seasoned experts, you can create a special garden-themed gift basket for each to enjoy.

Step 1:  Begin personalizing your gift with the container.  A simple basket is a great start... with so many shapes and sizes out there, you should be able to find one fairly easily.  If you're feeling creative, here are a few ideas:
  1. Look around at a home improvement store.  A multipurpose container, such as a galvanized tub, is useful and comes in many sizes.  You might also look for a watering can, a large clay pot, or even a garden tool bag/tote.
  2. Visit a local antique or thrift store to search for unique containers that fit the theme... a vintage wooden toolbox or large enamelware bowl would look great!

Step 2:  Choose how you want to fill your basket... or container.   Always start by adding something like crumpled up paper or plastic bags to the base.  Doing this makes your items look better, and can save you money.  Next cover the base material with tissue paper, shredded paper or wood, raffia, burlap, or fabric.

Step 3:  The fun part... choose items to fill and truly personalize your gift!  Keep in mind, these are just a few ideas ~ look around for other really unique gifts...  You never know what you'll stumble upon at the local dollar, thrift, or antique store... even the grocery store!  Here's a few gardening-inspired suggestions to get you started:
  1. gloves
  2. twine
  3. plant markers
  4. garden tools
  5. assorted seed packets
  6. Spring bulbs
  7. flowers or a small plant
  8. journal
  9. book
  10. set of notecards
  11. vintage postcards
  12. small calendar
  13. gift card
  14. candle
  15. lotion
  16. botanical soaps
  17. herbal teas
  18. vintage teacup & saucer
  19. pretty mug
  20. decorative plate
  21. small jar honey or jam 
  22. chocolate...

Step 4:  Gather your purchases (or creations, if you're so inclined), the chosen container, and filler.  Remember to build up the base of your container with crumpled paper or plastic first.  Arrange items so you can see everything or almost everything in a pleasing way.

Step 5:  Finally, add finishing touches, such as... ribbon, vintage Christmas ornaments, sprigs of evergreen, berries, pinecones, or dried flowers such as hydrangeas or baby's breath.

This gift would work well, not only given at Christmastime, 
but at any time of the year.  Just tweak it to reflect the season or occasion.

I put together 2 example baskets for you 
with items I found around my home.  
The first one is pictured above. 

I realized I need some new gardening tools!  
Oh well, Christmas is coming, right? 

Hope you found this helpful!
Thanks for stopping by...
Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Snowflake Button Ornaments

Funny how even our mistakes can turn in to something beautiful... 
I was making a Christmas card last evening ~ getting frustrated
because it wasn't turning out as well as I'd hoped.  

Instead of scrapping the entire mess, 
I decided to cut out what I liked most...
a little snowflake made of buttons.

I used the other side of the card to make a second.  
Now that I've got the process down, I'll gladly share it with you...

white or off-white card stock (I used a plain greeting card)
fine-tipped permanent black marker
metallic pearl white acrylic paint
small paintbrush
various buttons
flat-backed clear acrylic gems
craft glue
white or off-white glitter

Write... Let it Snow in cursive, in somewhat straight lines down the paper.  The best sections are where I didn't write very well... they're more interesting.

Paint... a thin layer of the pearly white over the words.

Buttons...  I used 12 small buttons and 1 med/lg button for the center.  I played around with different combinations until I found something I liked.  If you've got buttons that are the right size but too bright, you can lightly paint them with the pearly white to tone down the color.

Glue... an acrylic gem in to the center of the large button.  Glue that down on the paper, making sure to leave plenty of room for the rest of the buttons.  Glue the small buttons down in their rows, then let everything dry for a few minutes.

Cut... around the buttons in a hexagon shape.  Cut out small triangles from between the button rows to reveal your snowflake.

Glitter... Place a few dots of glue here and there, and sprinkle glitter over your beautiful creation... done!

Here's a card I made with one of the snowflakes:

"Snowflakes are kisses from heaven."
 ~ Author Unknown ~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wintry Wreath

I originally created this wreath with Thanksgiving in mind... 
but as I went along, I opted not to use color,
so it turned out looking like a wintry wreath instead.

Here's what I used to make it:

1 paper plate
2 or 3 sheets of white paper
scallop-edged scissors
black watercolor/fine-tipped brush
white glue
white glitter

First I cut out the center of the paper plate.

Next, I started cutting out my leaves.  
The larger leaves in the back rows measure about 4" by 2".  
The small leaves in the front are about 2" by 1".  

I used 18 large leaves (9 with words), 
and 10 small leaves (2 are hidden behind the ribbon).

I then used black watercolor to paint words 
that represent a few things I'm thankful for.

Here's an illustration to show what I did in the next steps:
 I placed the paper plate upside down on the table. 
Next I arranged the large leaves ~ the pattern I used was: 
plain leaf, with word, plain leaf...  

I then glued them down
~ using as little glue as possible ~
covering the inside edge.

I glued the small leaves down over the plain leaves,
and slightly curled the edge for some dimension.

I used glue and glitter to make designs on the leaves like this:
The final touch was finding the right ribbon to hang my creation.
This September, I was a bridesmaid in my brother's wedding.
That silvery, satiny ribbon once wrapped around the bouquet I carried. 

Isn't it beautiful?
I knew I'd find a good use for it!

Hope you enjoyed this simple wintry wreath...
I'm thankful you stopped by!

"Winter is the time for comfort... 
it is the time for home."

~ Edith Sitwell ~

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sweet Roses

"We can complain because 
rose bushes have thorns, 
or rejoice because 
thorn bushes have roses."

~ Abraham Lincoln ~

 I created this set of gift tags 
to share with you... my sweet friends!

 I made these by combining sheet music, a Swedish ad tag, an image of beautiful roses, and one of my herbal tea watercolor papers

Thanks for stopping by... 
hope you're having a Sweet Saturday!

"This old world that we're livin' in
Is might hard to beat.
You get a thorn with every rose
But - ain't the roses sweet?" 

~ Frank Stanton ~

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas & Winter Clipart

I used a simple black marker 
to create these seasonal graphics.  

I'm sharing them for free!  

If you like what you see, 
or use an image/images, 
please let me know about it in the comments.  

I'd love to see and hear 
about how others used my art!   


Click on the collage sheet above.
Right click and select 'view image.'
Click again to enlarge the picture.
Select 'save image as' to save to your computer.
The collage sheet should print out on a full page.
~ I also separated all the graphics for individual download below


Here are a few I filled in with watercolor...

"It is Christmas in the heart 
that puts Christmas in the air." 

~ W.T. Ellis ~

Monday, November 14, 2011

White as Snow

When it snows, she has no fear for her household; 
for all of them are clothed in scarlet

~ Proverbs 31:21 ~

" not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black...God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously... as when He paints in white." 

~ G. K. Chesterton ~

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grandma's Apron

The strings were tied, it was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.
For Grandma, it was everyday to choose one when she dressed.
The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;
the things she used it for, that made it look worn out.
She may have used it to hold some wildflowers that she'd found. 
Or to hide a crying child's face when a stranger came around. 
Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth. 
Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.
She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire. 
To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.
When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow. 
You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.
She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside. 
Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.
When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest. 
I'm sure the apron that she chose, was her Sunday best.
~ Tina Trivett ~

"Aprons don’t hold us back, they take us back."
 ~ EllynAnne Geisel ~

Did you know November 23rd is  
National Tie One On Day?  
I hope you'll join me in wearing an apron to celebrate!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sweet Girls & Dolls

  This morning my daughter skipped over and wanted her picture taken with her 'new' doll from grandma... how could I resist?

  She squeezed that little thing 'til I thought her stuffing would come out!  Olivia said, "I just love her so much!"  How many girls have shared in that experience?  We're born with a desire to care for others, and expressing that with a doll just seems to come so naturally.

Dolls come in a variety of packages... some handmade and well-worn with love, 
others expertly crafted in the finest of clothes...

... and they are all beautiful, in their own way.  I wonder what stories they would tell if they could speak...

Imagine many, many years ago sitting in a store display as a girl walks by only to see you... she presses her pretty little face against the glass as she struggles to get a closer look.  She has such a kind smile, and you hope she'll be yours...

Now imagine that little girl carefully penning her letter to Santa and asking, wishing... praying for that one special gift she saw in the display...

On Christmas morning you and your little girl are happily united! 

Such sweet thoughts...

Did you have a special doll growing up?  
I hope you'll take a moment 
to think sweet thoughts about her today...

"Yesterday brought the beginning, 
tomorrow brings the end,
and somewhere in the middle 
we became the best of friends."  

~ Author Unknown ~

Thanks for stopping by, and have a Sweet Saturday!

Postcard image and photo credit 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Little Red House

Yesterday I stumbled upon a cute little freebie... a printable wintry house at twelve22.  I thought it was so cute that I printed one out for both of my kids (ages 4 & 6).

As luck would have it, there was also a blank version... so I printed that one out for myself.

My little boy colored his with blue and green crayons and a red ink pen.  We worked on it together while his sister was still at school.  When my daughter got home she got busy on her own.  She's in to details, and had me cut the door and gate so they could swing open and closed.

This morning I grabbed my copy.  I penciled in details first and then added watercolors.  I lightly coated it with clear acrylic spray to protect the paint.  I love the result!  I may just make a few more for around the house... what do you think?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Herbal Tea 'Watercolors'

My son ripped open a packet of Wild Berry Zinger herbal tea a few days ago... still not sure if he was trying to make tea or just trying to make a mess...  In an attempt to clean up, he dumped some of the dry mixture in the kitchen sink.  

Later, when I discovered my tie-dyed sink, I thought 
~ that is really prettythen washed the colors away.

This morning as I stood at the sink doing dishes, I thought ~ why not try recreating my colorful sink on paper?  Actually, I'm surprised I didn't think of it sooner.  Like... all the other times I've noticed my sink
                    or counter top stained with tea.

So I gathered some supplies for my 'experiment'... 

1.  thick paper, like cardstock
2.  2 packets of Celestial Seasonings herbal tea (Wild Berry Zinger & Country Peach Passion)
3.  a spray bottle of water

First I sprayed the paper somewhat evenly with water.  I opened the packets and sprinkled the berry tea contents on the top half of the paper ~ peach tea on the other half.  I then lightly sprayed a few more times to make sure everything was wet.

The longer it stood, the more the ingredients in the herbal tea 'bled' on the paper.  I admit I like to see a result quickly, so I turned the oven on to 'broil' on high and placed the paper on the MIDDLE rack to dry for a few minutes (with the oven door cracked open so I could see inside).

After the paper was dry, I brushed most of the dried bits off (they wouldn't all come off, and I liked the look anyway).  My finished paper is at the top.

Once I got the process down, I asked my daughter to come in a make her own creation, which she was excited about... "I get to spray the water?"  She had fun making her own patterns and spraying the water (of course).  Here's how hers turned out... 

When I look at these I see autumn leaves, but maybe you see something else.  I love how you can't really 'mess up' and the result is always something beautiful.  I don't say this often, but... I'm glad my son made that mess in the kitchen!!

Feel free to save our artwork to your computer 
and use in a digital collage or your own artwork... 
but I think the much better idea is to make your own!

Have fun!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sweet Smiles

When I tuck my son in at night he asks something like... "Does Olivia go to school in the morning?"

Honestly, he's happy either way... if she's going or not, because they are very close.  That being said, when I reply, "Yes, Olivia's got school in the morning," his smile stretches from ear to ear.  He knows it's our special time together.

Yesterday was one of those days.  When I came in from getting Olivia on the bus, Zachary was still standing at the window, with a slightly sad look on his face.  His eyes quickly lit up as I asked, "Well, what are we gonna do today?"

It was then that my expression changed, as I remembered it was time for my yearly TB test and flu shot at the hospital.  I stooped down and said, "Would you like to help me be brave today?"  His eyes were big as he quickly replied, "Sure Mom!  Why do you need to be brave?"  So I told him. He looked up at me with that sweet little smile and said, "It'll be alright.  I know you can do it... just don't cry like this ~ Wah!  Wah! Wah!"  We laughed and laughed...

One thing about where I get my shots, is that it's right across from a koi pond.  The pond is maintained and decorated through out the year... but the main attraction, at least for the little ones, is the train that goes around the display.  My son loves trains, and just about anything else that has an engine for that matter... so I knew he'd LOVE it.

I rested my hands on Zachary's shoulders and looked him in the eye.  I told him about the train, and that we'd see it, but that first, "Mommy needs her shots."  Out came that big grin again as he nodded enthusiastically.

We arrived at the hospital, and Zachary eagerly unbuttoned his seat belt and jumped to the pavement.  "Remember what we said about the train?"  "Sure do Mom!"  He reached up to grab my hand as we walked to the entrance.  Along the way he asked questions about the people we saw... "Are they sick?  Why are they here?  Why are they leaving?..."  I just smiled and gave simple answers, which seemed to satisfy his curiosity.

We entered and walked down the hallway.  He looked up and said, "Mom, I know... shots first, then the train, right?"  I just hoped he'd really remember those words when he SAW it.

He did!  He looked for a split second, and asked, "Is that the train?"  He took a deep breath, put his hands on his hips and said, "Okay, well you gotta get your shots now."  We walked through the door and immediately he started chatting with the nurses... introducing me and himself and telling them why we were there... all of course, while flashing his sweet smile.

We went in to a little room, and as the nurse prepared the shots, my son stood watch over me.  He analyzed every move she made.  I got the flu shot first.  I don't know if he saw that or not, because I didn't look that way (I tense up if I watch).  As I was getting my bandaid, Zachary said, "You did really good Mom, I'm proud of you!"

I said, "I'm not done... I get one more shot."  I could see him for this one.  I told him to look away, but he covered his face with his hands and peeked through his fingers, which made me smile.  When it was over, he had this amazed expression as he said, "Mom... you were really brave."  He held my hand then gave me a hug...

We stopped to see the train on the way out, as promised, and he got to push a button to make it go.  He asked, "Do you see this train all the time??"  I do, but actually I usually look at my reflection in the glass as I pass by instead of the train.  Now I'll look down at that train instead, and think about my Zachary.

As we left hand-in-hand, my little guy looked up at me with that sweet smile, and I said, "I love you."  He replied, "I know, Mom."

What a perfect answer to this brave... and proud... mother's heart.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Printable gift tags

I've been looking for free images 
I could combine to create Christmas gift tags.  
There are so many beautiful graphics out there,
it can be hard to decide what to use!

Just click on the picture you want.
Next select 'view image.'
Click again to enlarge the picture.
Select 'save image as' to save to your computer.
The images should print out on a full page.
I found this Victorian Santa with little girl here
and the circular frame here.

I created this set of tags using a simple watercolor I painted. 
I like the slightly intertwined look of the branches.

I'll be posting more sets as I finish them.  
I printed these out on card stock, and plan on embellishing them 
with a little gold glitter and a gold leaf pen...
Hope everyone's having a great Friday!!

Happy PPF!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


How silently they tumble down

And come to rest upon the ground

To lay a carpet,
rich and rare,

Beneath the trees without a care,

Content to sleep, their work well done, 

Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times,
they wildly fly

Until they nearly
reach the sky.

Twisting, turning
through the air

Till all the trees stand
stark and bare.

Exhausted, drop
to earth below

           To wait, like children,
                for the snow.

                        ~ Elsie N. Brady ~