Easter 101: Baskets, Decor and More

Easter rabbit on fresh green grass

Easter is almost here! And that means, baskets to be assembled, tables to be set, and spring cleaning to be tackled.


iphone april 2012 053No basket? No problem! Get tips for alternatives to a plain ‘ol wicket basket that adds to the gifty-ness of this year’s Easter treasures. And some non-candy gift ideas, too!





Powder and basket 018Basket brush-up: Once you’ve got that basket (or non-basket!) use these principles and tips to create professional-looking gift baskets.





Easter centerpiece collageTable time: Need a quick and cheap centerpiece! Try this $12 idea!






Yellow TulipsFlower power: Keep spring flowers fresh as a daisy with these pro tips.






March 2014 030Last minute decor: Add a splash of color to your Easter festivities with scarves!






(c) Africa Studio/Fotolia

Clean it up: Get tips on spring cleaning, although maybe just a tidying up before Easter. It’s early this year after all, and nobody’s going to see the garage. I hope.





Need more inspiration? Browse all my Easter articles here for bits of history and even some extravagance.

Rabbit photo copyright levranii/Fotolia.com.

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Dorm Checklist Tops Pin List

Recently I participated in Dawn Mena’s Captivating Copy Blog Summer Camp to get fresh ideas for blog articles. One of her tips included a recap of most popular articles. I’m using that tip for this look back at my top five most pinned and repinned original non-holiday ideas in the last year.  (Stayed tuned for Halloween pins next month!)


#1 College Dorm Checklist


Dorm life checklist


When my nephew Mitchell graduated high school last year, I came up with a “college dorm checklist” to include with his gift. My brother was impressed with the checklist and encouraged me to post it online. (Click the image above to download the pdf.)

Lo and behold, as of this writing, the checklist has been pinned more than 1,000 times from this blog! On Pinterest, the pin has been been repinned 19 times, and liked 2 times. It is by far my most popular offering. Who knew?


#2 College Survival Kit

 Dining and labor 083


Continuing the college theme, the College Survival Kit gift bag idea has been pinned 65 times from this blog, repinned 77 times on Pinterest and liked 18 times. It’s hard to find a camo gift bag, but the graphic I designed is easy to print and adhere to any gift bag for a similar look.


#3  Summer Fruit Salsa

 Memorial day 023


This is one of my yummiest pins so far … a light and easy summer fruit salsa with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips. Pinners are eating it up, posting it 47 times from this blog and repinning it another 37 times. Three have liked it. (Note for Pinterest users: The “like” button is a great way to save ideas without adding them to a particular board.)


#4  Baby Shower Gift Wrap


Embellished gift 020


Rounding out the top five are a couple of gift giving solutions. The first is a simple embellishment idea that people seem to like for baby showers: tie a rattle on the gift with the bow. Easy and fun! It’s been pinned four times from this blog, repinned 12 times and liked once.


 #5 How to Make a Gift Basket


Powder and basket 014


Gift baskets are a great way to give a lot of small or theme-related gifts at once. A few simple guidelines ensure anyone can put together a gift collage like a pro. This article has been pinned seven times from the blog, and repinned 11 times and liked once.


It was fun to revisit these blasts from the past, and it inspired me to add to my Gift Giving Solutions board for August birthdays, too. Be sure to check it out if you need any gifts in the next month.

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November Birthday Gifts Made Easy

©racamani - Fotolia.com

©racamani – Fotolia.com

As the temperature cools down, November gifts keep things warm with rich gold and amber tones in its associated flower and gemstones.


Inspiration: Floral

The flower of the month is the chrysanthemum, which comes in no less than 40 species, 13 different bloom forms and literally hundreds of varietals. Its colors range from white to purple, with yellow and gold being the most recognizable this time of year. Indeed “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower).

Chrysanthemums have been cultivated in China since at least the 15th century BC as an herb. They entered American gardens in the late 18th century when a dark purple variety was imported from England.

To celebrate the chrysanthemum and honor your November recipient, consider the Autumn Romance Bouquet from Teleflora. This bouquet features two types of chrysanthemums with peach roses and seeded eucalyptus. (3 sizes starting at $49.95; Teleflora.com)


Inspiration: Gems

November bears the distinction of having two gemstones traditionally associated with it. Both topaz and citrine claim November as their signature month, according to the American Gem Society (http://www.americangemsociety.org/november-birthstones). The amber brown variety of citrine is often carelessly referred to as “topaz” so this could account for the dual gemstone.

Personally, I associate citrine with November because of its golden hues, from pale yellow to deep ambers. Citrine is a relatively inexpensive gemstone from the quartz family, and is widely available in all sizes. For an almost dizzying array of citrine gemstone jewelry at every price point, head over to Ross-Simons (www.ross-simons.com).

For about $40, you could pick up a luxe-looking torsade necklace with strands and strands of yellow citrine.   I love citrine set in 14k yellow gold (they just seem made for each other), and these dangle earrings feature 14 carats of citrine with diamond accents. ($371.25)


Inspiration: Color

If neither jewelry nor flowers are your style, you can still take inspiration from their color cues when looking for the perfect gift. Caramels, golds, warm browns and ambers are just the ticket.

For example, iridescent glass hurricane candle holders cast a lovely glow. (3 sizes, $34 to $69; www.westelm.com) Complete the look with amber pillar candles.

A leather wristlet in a caramel tone is perfect for keeping a phone, cash, cards and an ID while on the go. ($55; www.macys.com)

Stay on your recipient’s mind when you slip a photo into this frame encrusted with glass gems that beautifully mimic citrine. Dazzling! ($22.95 at Pier 1)

Wrap up your recipient in a classic camel-colored cashmere muffler, or cashmere-lined brown leather gloves.

Finally, consider body products in warm and luxurious scents like Cashmere Glow, Aspen Caramel Woods, Sensual Amber, or for him—Dark Amber (various price points, Bath and Body Works, www.bathandbodyworks.com).

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One Stop Holiday Shopping at The Tree Lot

One of my top tips for gift giving is to shop “where” you are. Of course, it helps if where you are has a variety of departments or merchandise!

And that is definitely the case with The Tree Lot at Crate and Barrel, a pop-up shop that opened Oct. 29 at Town Square. The 6,700 square foot space is located just behind Brio, adjacent to the central park.

The Tree Lot is filled with items from Crate and Barrel’s Holiday 2013 collection and features a wide selection of globally sourced, exclusive home decor, gift items, entertaining/tabletop wares, tree trimming essentials and confections. Oh, the confections!!

“This year, we were inspired by the tradition of Christmas tree lots and we wanted to bring the joy and sentiment of that experience with our holiday product and visual display,” said Marta Calle, President and Chief Merchant of Crate and Barrel.

Calle’s Columbian roots bring a fresh, new perspective to Crate and Barrel and that is evident in The Tree Lot, with many rustic textures and ethnic elements from stuffed wool critter tree ornaments to garlands made from sari fabric. One of my personal favorites from the tabletop collection is this ceramic serving tray with a woodgrain texture ($19.95).


Tree Trimming

Many ornaments have a handmade quality. The store’s selection includes penguins, deer, dachshunds and foxes along with glittering bells, balls and snowflakes.

Ornaments 2


One hot new trend is a tree ring. These oversized rings ($59.95), available in galvanized metal or hand-braided native palm, slip over the tree stand and eliminate the need for a skirt. (Although the store still offers tree skirts as well.)


Gift Wrap

Customers who purchase rolls of Crate and Barrel wrapping paper ($7.95) may have their purchases wrapped by a store associate at no additional charge. This year’s washi tape craze hits holiday wrapping with a selection of “ribbon tape” ($4.95 to $9.95) from Japan in a variety of widths and designs from a cute mouse to “no peeking.” Wrap your boxes with tape instead of traditional ribbon!



I’ve been buying C&B Christmas confections for many years, so I was pleased to see that The Tree Lot has a good selection of this year’s sweet treats, from traditional hard candy to homemade marshmallows from the Butter Baked Goods bakery in Vancouver. (Try the gingerbread marshmallows!) Bourbon balls, peppermint bark, English toffee, organic hot chocolate mix and the popular mini melts are just a few of the tempting offerings.

Hard candy


Home Accessories

Shoppers at the The Tree Lot will find plenty of holiday home accessories, including an array of bright pillows, cozy throws, vases and  candle holders. The Jingleberry bowl filler ($9.95) caught my eye, and would be perfect mixed in with my usual pinecone display.


Gift Ideas

Many of the items highlighted here would be a wonderful holiday gift (and I’ll put together my top 5 hostess gift ideas in another article), but The Tree Lot has a dedicated display of interesting, unique and downright quirky gift items for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Even things for your pets! But what interested me was a stack of Japanese notepads. I thought, why on earth would there be a stack of notepads? Well, I felt the paper and it’s sumptuous — like no paper I’ve ever felt, and it’s graph paper.


Now, who on my list is a paper aficionado? There has to be someone!

The Tree Lot will be open through Dec. 31. The pop-up concept is a first for Crate and Barrel, who is trying the holiday stores in three other locations that do not have a Crate and Barrel retail store. While there’s no concrete plans to bring a permanent store to Las Vegas, we can cross our fingers that The Tree Lot is a good market test!

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How to Shop for Gift Baskets: From Plain to Personalized

One of my friends is having a baby (yay!). For her shower gift, I shopped from her registry at Babies R Us and selected items for baby’s bath and personal care. But rather than dump them into a box or wrap them individually, I decided to create a gift basket. So, off to Michaels craft store I went in search of the right basket.

I felt a little like Goldilocks in the basket aisle. Some baskets were too large, others were too small. Some were too expensive, while others were too, well, baby specific. I wanted something that would be useful and could either grow with the baby or be used in another room of mom and dad’s house.

Baby baskets

There, in the back of a shelf nearly hidden from view was a simple navy blue woven basket. At $10, it was priced right (less expensive than baby-specific containers), but it was a little plain I had to admit. Hmmm. What if I could embellish it somehow?

Baby basket and Hween 1013 002

I headed over the wood craft aisle where, lo and behold, I found painted wood shapes of palm trees, flowers, dolphins, dinosaurs … and rubber duckies. As many of the items on the gift registry featured whales and sea creatures, I had hoped for a whale, but thought the yellow duck looked great against the blue. At 59 cents, it was a no brainer. Sold!

To attach the duck and make it easy removable, I used one 3M Command® picture hanging strip (size small) and cut it in half. I placed it so the half with the removable tab would be on the basket, and the other part on the duck. So cute!

Duck basket

Next, I removed the whale bath towel and washcloths from their packaging but put the packaging in the bottom of the basket, just in case mom wants to return the items (I included a gift receipt in the card).

Baby basket and Hween 1013 010

Then, I added a layer of excelsior (you could use shredded paper) to fill the basket and provide height to the items.

Baby basket and Hween 1013 014

I arranged all of the items, and added a rubber duck and some travel-size toiletries to round out the gift.

Baby basket and Hween 1013 013

Finally, I used a cellophane gift basket bag (99 cents at Michaels) rather than trying to wrap it in a sheet of cellophane. Although this basket was on the small size, I needed a large bag; these bags seem to run small.

I used almost every color of curling ribbon I had to create a bow, and tied it on with the card to top off the gift basket.

It was super easy and very fun to create!

Baby basket and Hween 1013 021

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Witchy Woman Treat Box

Witch treat box collage

So adorable and so easy to make, this Witchy Woman Treat Box has been rambling around my brain for a couple of years, so I’m glad it finally was realized for this year’s “Macbeth Witches” Halloween theme.

Have you seen the stacked boxes for Christmas treats, printed to look like a snowman or Santa? Well, a few years ago I found this paper mache tall round box at a craft store (Joann, $4.99), and thought it would be perfect for the face on a stacked witch treat box set. I even had the round hat boxes on hand to make her body. But then I got stuck trying to figure out what kind of clothes she would be wearing, and how would I even make them? I couldn’t paint them all on (I’m so not an artist!), so would I use fabric, paper, what? I couldn’t find pre-printed witches costumes, and how could I make that on the computer? And the hat?! I thought of covering a foam cone with black fabric.



If a craft isn’t dead simple, I’m not likely to do it–end of story. I put away all the pieces and with them, the idea.

Until this year … I found a paper mache witch hat (Michaels, $2.99) and thought, hmmm, could this be the perfect proportion for that tall round hat box? Yes it was! And then I SIMPLIFIED the project and decided the face and hat would be a super cute, easy project with little or no drawing required.


  • Tall round paper mache hat box (6” by 6”)
  • Paper mache witch hat (10” diameter)
  • Lime green acrylic craft paint
  • Black acrylic craft paint
  • Black permanent marker
  • Black self-adhesive felt
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • Red rick rack trim
  • Hot glue gun
  • Double-sided tape


  • Black feather trim
  • Rhinestone button
  • Black and white scrapbook paper or gift wrap

1. Paint the hat all over with the black acrylic paint. Allow to dry and apply another coat of black paint. Because I knew I would cover the bottom of the hat with decorative paper, I only painted a 1 inch band around the underside of the brim. If you’re not using decorative paper, be sure to paint the bottom of the hat completely.

2. If desired, trim the hat with black feathers using hot glue and add a rhinestone button. You may substitute whatever trims you like, using whatever you have on hand or whatever catches your eye at the craft store. Try grosgrain ribbon and a buckle, or a ruffle and a moon-shaped pin.

3. If desired, cut a piece of decorative paper to fit the bottom of the hat and adhere with double-sided tape .

4. Paint the entire lid of the box, and the outside and bottom of the box with the green craft paint. I mixed Apple Green and Light Foliage Green, both by Delta Ceramcoat, for my box/face. Apply two coats, allowing the paint to dry in between coats.

5. If desired, cut decorative paper to line the underside of the box lid and the bottom inside of the box. Adhere with double-sided tape.

6. Decide where the center-front and center-back of your face will be and mark reference points lightly in pencil, making the mark across both the lid and the base so you can match them up later.

7. Using the center-front reference as a guide, create a face for your witch. (If you like, you can draw all the features on with black and red markers.) I used self-adhesive black felt for eyebrows. Simply draw a basic curve shape and cut it out; use the cut out, flipped over, to trace out the other eyebrow. Apply the eyebrows.

8. Apply wiggle eyes under the eyebrows using hot glue.

9. I debated how to create the nose, and noticed that some off cuts of the black felt were gently curved, so those became the nose. One long and one short piece did the trick.

10. Make a mouth with red rick rack.

11. Draw on hair in pencil first. Starting at the center back, draw a spiral for a bun. Then, turn the piece around and determine where the hairline will start on the front of the face, marking the starting point roughly equally spaced from the facial features. With the lid in place, begin drawing (in pencil) rows of sweeping lines from the top of the lid to the bottom of the box, curving until the lines meet the bun in the back. Repeat on the other side of the box. When you’re happy with your witch’s hairstyle, draw over the pencil lines with black marker. Erase any obvious pencil lines and the reference markings.

12. Draw in bangs on the forehead with black marker. I repeated the number “6” to make curls.

13. Hot glue the hat onto the head.

Your Witch Treat Box is now ready to be filled with treats!! I suggest crispy rice bats and ghosts, peanut butter eyeballs and ogre fingers. This makes a great gift for a teacher, neighbor, or grandparent.

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