Monday, December 20, 2010

christmas gift tags for me and for you

Yesterday I spent much of the morning wrapping up christmas gifts. It was a goal of mine to try and keep my gift wrapping simple yet personal this year, and so I decided to design up my own little gift tags to use and share with friends and family. And, I thought it would be nice to share them with all of you, too. A little gift from me to you.

If you would like, you can download a page of these gift tags for your own personal use, here now:

notes: I printed out my gift tags onto one of my very favourite papers: Strathmore Acrylic linen canvas, which can be purchased in various size pads at good art supply shops. Even though this paper is heavy (246 lb), over many years I have had no problems printing on this and other random heavier weight papers, with my basic desktop printers, and the printed results are so pretty. (My current printers are an inexpensive Canon Pixma ip4200 and a larger-scale Epson Stylus Photo 1400). I just top load manually feed the sheets one by one. Simple.

But course, you can print out your tags onto any paper you wish - card stock or heavier the better for these tags, but whatever works for you and suits your fancy!

The only real pain about these little tags is that you and I both will have to trim them out by hand. I used a sharp new exacto knife and metal ruler to trim the rectangular tags, and then when it came to the round tags, I just trimmed them out by hand. (Having a movie playing in the background while trimming helped, too!)

Well, It is my sincere hope that many of you will like my christmas gift tags, and are able to use them and find them lovely and useful. Please do let me know!

And, I sincerely wish you all a magical holiday time, and coming new year, filled with love, light, joy, and so much inspiration. Thank you for visiting me here in this place, and for your wonderful support over the years. It means so much to me, and for this I thank you.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

making a garland of doves

I've had this notion - to try to make a garland of doves together with my daughter - floating around in the back of my head for a while. Finally, yesterday when Adelaide and I woke up it just seemed like a good day to try and make one up.

To make our garland of doves, Addie and I first googled and did a bit of research about doves. We learned a little about them, and that they are one of the most recognised symbols of peace. We also found some images of different doves, and from them we drew a dove body and a set of dove wings using Adobe Illustrator. I distracted Addie and was able to take a few minutes to do some quick print outs and test on how our doves would work and fit together. When happy with a design, I printed out several copies of our dove layout onto thick watercolour paper, and we were ready to paint!

To paint our doves, I first I brought one of our bird books to our painting table, page opened to a Mourning Dove for inspiration. I showed Adelaide how the bird was mostly white, but also had what looked almost like gold and silver feathers, too.

I then cut out one set of my watercolour paper Dove template - 2 bodies and 1 wing - and got Adelaide painting. I cut up some sponges into 1/2 - 1" pieces for her, and gave her small plates squirted with a bit of white, silver, and gold acrylic paint. Being the same easy technique that she used to paint her autumn leaves, she immediately remembered just what to do and got to work, dabbing and sponging away. So simple!

When Addie had each Dove painted (2 bodies and 1 wing per dove), and the paint was still wet, I set up a 'sparkle station' on a chair, a few feet over. I let her choose from small packets of extra-fine white, gold, and silver glitter, and she would sprinkle her painted Doves. In this manner, together we created 8 (approximately 5") Doves - me cutting, her painting and sparkling. And. then... it was time for a break, and lunch.

After our lunch break, the Doves were dry and We were able to flip (just the) wing pieces over to paint and sparkle them up, too. While they dried, we began to prepare them to be glued, gathering up our supplies: an exacto knife, white school glue, paint brushes, bulldog clips, and string.

When all of our Dove pieces were dry, we began to assemble our birds. Carefully, using another unpainted Dove body as a template, I cut the 1.25" cut across the Dove's body (front). lining up the second body piece, (painted sides out), I was able to match up, mark, and cut the same slice in the back piece of the body. Folding the wing down it's centre, I inserted the wing, first through the front body piece, and then through the back body piece. I then slid the wings and adjusted them so that the two body pieces matched up and the wings were centered nicely on the Dove.

Next, with a paint brush and plate of white school glue, Addie was able to help me glue the body pieces of the Dove while I held them open for her. Leaving the now glued body for a few seconds, I gathered up my string, and then ran it through the centre of the glued Dove's body - one string end coming out at the beak and the other at the tail wing. I clipped both the beak and the tail wing with a bulldog clip for a couple of minutes, to set without shifting around. In this manner, we strung together 8 of our birds - beaks and tails together as though they are kissing.

Placed all together in a garland, our painted Doves are quite beautiful and I find there is a quiet, simple sweetness about them. We hung them from our fireplace mantel, flying happily together. Adelaide was thrilled and we are both very happy with the results of our project.

We have found these painted doves to be quite lovely and can be used in many ways - hung altogether to form a garland as we have done, or kept as single birds for a simple ornament or gift topper. The project can be kept easy - creating just a single dove, or extended - creating multiple doves for a garland. The doves can also be made in all sorts of sizes, large or small. And these doves store easily because their wings fold up flat - so they also can be mailed off and away... perhaps even as a small gift in a christmas card.

p.s. If you'd like to make up some Doves of your own, here is our template - in .pdf format - for you, now:

p.p.s. If you make this project and use the template, please let me know how it goes, and if I could make any changes or additions to my description, or the template, to make it better!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

baking up christmas

Because of my diet (gluten, dairy free) I don't ordinarily do a lot of baking, but somehow last week I discovered that my daughter Adelaide is a very happy baker. And so, together we spent a few days baking up a storm!

We made batches of chocolate peppermint cookies (a recipe I found in an old Martha issue), cranberry shortbread (which is my favourite - an old family recipe which I love to add sundried cranberries to), glazed lemon cookies (a recipe I found through Sally Shim's blog ages ago and have been meaning to try), and classic gingerbread, too (recipe from Martha as well). While I didn't sample too much, I hear back from many eaters that all these recipes are very nice and very yummy!

Then Adelaide and I sorted and packed up a dozen cookie samplers to give and mail away as gifts. We used crisp new white tea towels for lining and arranged them carefully in pretty bowls and willow baskets. I designed up a gift tag using Adobe Illustrator, and printed them out onto a sheet of heavy Strathmore acrylic linen canvas paper. I also printed out a photograph which I shot after baking a batch of cookies - Addie pausing in the middle of happily licking the wooden spoon - and included it along with the tag, tied with a pretty ribbon around our bowls and baskets.

Just last night we drove all around town, Charles, Addie, and I, singing along to cheesy christmas carols on the radio, surprising our best friends and dropping off our homemade cookie gift baskets to them. It was such a sweet and lovely evening, and I feel happy to have shared it with those whom we love the most.