Light Up Your Love

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012

This year I looked at the craft supplies I have on hand and came up with 3 unique ways to add some Valentine flair to everyday items. With ribbon, lace, paper and some felt stickers, I’m very happy with the results.

Love Letters

The LOVE letter votives are inspired by a high end look — $39 for a set of four! — that I saw at one of my favorite stores, but knew I could create a similar look for less. All you need is computer and printer, parchment paper and straight-sided votive cups.

Use a word processing program and a font of your choice (100-point size) to spell out L-O-V-E, one letter per line. Add a piece of clipart behind the letters, like this swirly, romantic graphic. Print on parchment paper using the color setting. Measure the height of the votive holders and cut the letters into horizontal strips to fit, using a paper cutter for a straight edge. Wrap one letter band around each cup, trimming the ends if necessary and secure with double-sided tape. Download the template to get the look shown by clicking here: LOVE candles (Tip: Use this technique to create custom candlelight for any occasion or holiday!)

Lace Lights

Lace is one of the iconic symbols of Valentine’s Day, dating back to Victorian times when ladies’ handkerchiefs trimmed in handmade lace inspired candy boxes and greeting cards.

For this look, I looked through my sewing supplies and found some pretty bits of lace that happened to be the same width as my clear votive cups. Wrapped in lace, secured with a bit of double-sided tape and tied with thin satin ribbon, these candles evoke a romantic spirit — perfect for a Valentine’s table. (And talk about a fast craft project!) If you don’t have (or can’t find) lace in the perfect width, simply stack the lace in bands around the votive glass. This technique would also dress up a simple glass vase, making it rose-ready!

Embellished Jar

Jar candles are a great way to bring a lot of fragrance to your home, with the added bonus of a long burn time. But, they’re plain and the labels aren’t so decorative.

Peel off the label (remove any residue with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol) and wrap the jar with a variety of ribbons in Valentine’s Day hues. Trim to about a ¼ inch overlap and secure with double-sided tape. In the look shown, the ribbon choices were inspired by the felt heart stickers (Michael’s craft store, $4). Because jar candles tend to be relatively small in circumference, you don’t need a lot of ribbon. In fact, the black ribbon used in this project was saved from a gift box and the others are leftovers from other projects, making this a very inexpensive project!

Why not take a rummage through your craft supplies, paper box, sewing basket, ribbon stash — even buttons and stickers? Look at what you already have with a fresh eye towards embellishing something plain into something sweet for your home.

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Champagne “Toast” Charms

Posted by on Dec 30, 2011

Raising a glass and offering a toast – in honor of a person or of an occasion, or as a general wishing of goodwill – has become a tradition during celebrations and ceremonies. New Year’s Eve is no exception and is one of the most “toasted” occasions.

The ritual of toasting involves saying a few well-chosen words, clinking glasses together and drinking, usually (but not always) an alcoholic beverage.Clinking glasses is said to have its origins in the Middle Ages, when poison was widely used to off one’s enemies. Although scientifically unproven, legend has it that clinking glasses would slosh some poison back into the poisoner’s glass and thus was seen as a measure of safety. The term “toast” evolved from the habit of putting a piece of charred bread in the bottom of the mug to help flavor the wine.By the 1800s, the toast was a tradition during formal meals, and the first toast always went to the guest of honor.

Keeping the tradition of toasting alive, this easy and fun project serves multiple purposes during your New Year’s celebration. These toast tags are ice breakers – what a better way for guests to say hello to each other than with well wishes – and they’re also wine charms so everyone can keep track of his or her glass.

You’ll need:

• Black card stock

• White paper

• Double-sided tape

• Curling ribbon

• Hole punch

Cut card stock into uniform pieces, about 1 ½ x 1 ¼ inches. I used a tag-shaped punch, but any shape will do. Using a word processing program, type up your toasts of choice. Use the suggestions below or create your own. (Hint: Use the table function of the word processing program to ensure that the messages are uniform in size. I set my width to 1 ¼ inches and height to 1 inch. Print; cut out the messages. (Use the table grid lines as a guide.) If desired, trim the edges with decorative shears. Apply a message to a piece of the card stock with double-sided tape. Decorate with self-adhesive rhinestones if desired. Punch a hole at top of the card stock and tie the toast onto the stem of each flute with pretty curling ribbon.

Here are some suggested toasts:

Here’s to good intentions … and better actions!

May the future be pleasant, the past a bright dream, and our friends remain faithful and dear.

May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

In the New Year, may every today be happier than yesterday!

May the most you wish for be the least you get!

To happy times … may they come often and stay long!

Love to one, friendship to many, and good will to all.

May the friends of our youth be the companions of our old age.

Cheers to you, cheers to me, have a Happy New Year’s Eve!

To prosperity … and the wisdom to use it well!

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The Gift of Memory

Posted by on Nov 30, 2011

The greatest gift is one that need not cost a cent.

It is the gift of memory.

Our belongings may be lost, stolen or destroyed, but the memories remain. If you’ve ever loved a person who is losing their memory, whether through illness or accident, you know how frustrating it can be—you’ve seen the pain and desperation on your loved one’s face when they can’t remember something. I’ve often thought of what I’d grab if I had only minutes to vacate my home. It’s not the jewelry or the china or my clothes – I think what I would grab would be photo albums that help trigger memories of family and friends and times spent together.

One of the best ways to create memories at the holidays is of course through shared experiences—celebrating together, going sledding, attending events, baking together, keeping traditions alive and making new ones.

Another way is give the gift of memory is to take something from your recipient’s past and bring it forward to the present. For example, a woman I know told me that her husband is planning to take recordings of his mother’s music concerts from the 1960s that are stored on reel-to-reel tapes and have them converted to CDs. I’m sure his mother will be thrilled to receive the gift of the memory of her music. In my garage I have 8mm films from the only wilderness fishing trip that my dad took both of my brothers on—I’ve been planning for years to have them converted to DVDs for my brothers, and I think now is a good time.

Do you have any memories stored on hard-to-playback media? Now is an ideal time to have them converted to something that will last a bit longer. Check online or in your phone book under “Media conversion” for a source near you. College libraries are a good source as well.

Here are some other ideas to give the gift of memory:

• Frame photos of you and your recipient over the years in a multi-opening frame.

• Better yet, make a frame by embellishing a store bought frame with a few simple craft supplies. (Get instructions to make the frame shown.)

• Have copies of vintage family photos made and framed to share with your siblings and cousins.

• Create shadow box collages with photos, ticket stubs, playbills, and other memorabilia that remind your recipient of a specific event or part of their life.Have other ideas?

Please share them with me! I’d love to hear what you’re doing to give the gift of memory this year.

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Mummy’s the Word

Posted by on Oct 19, 2011

One of my basic tenets of crafting and decorating is to use what you already have and turn it into something cute, chic or just plain funky for your home, and this project hits all those notes.

The other night I was contemplating a plain jar candle and wondering what I could do to add some Halloween charm to it. Voila! The mummy luminaria was born. This project works great with cheese cloth, gauze bandages, or strips of cotton voile and a clear cylindrical vase, a jar candle (or a great re-use of a leftover jar from a candle) or any clean glass food jar. Any size will work! For the eyes, use wiggle eyes (I happened to have some left over from another craft), black buttons or pieces of felt. In other words, for every element of this project … use what you have! No special supplies or equipment necessary.

To begin, cut cheese cloth or cotton gauze fabric into strips. The width will depend on the size of your container. For the large vase shown, I used 4 inch strips, but for a smaller jar candle, cut the strips about 2 inches wide. Gauze bandage material does not need to be cut down.Wrap your container with at least two or three layers of material depending on its transparency, overlapping the layers for a mummy look. Attach two eyes. I used some tacky putty to stick on my eyes, but glue or double stick tape would work as well. Wrap another layer or two of material around the container, once underneath the eyes and once over the top of the eyes. Tuck in the end and leave a bit of fabric loose. Adjust the layers as needed, tucking or folding as necessary. If using a vase or empty jar, add a candle and enjoy! (Always practice candle safety and never leave a burning candle unattended.)

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Custom Halloween Napkins

Posted by on Oct 11, 2011

For this project I took inspiration from a high-end table runner that had a Halloween night scene printed along the length of the material, which was burlap. I thought about stenciling with fabric paint, but that could be messy and time-consuming; and with the uneven texture of burlap, it could also be difficult.

When I saw a package of 6 generously-sized, Halloween orange cotton napkins at my local Cost Plus World Market store for only about $10, all the pieces came together. This is a quick, no-sew way to brighten your Halloween table.

6 cotton napkins

Iron on transfer paper*



1. Open a blank page in your word processing program and insert at least 6 black and white clipart images of your choice. Size the images so they are about the same dimension. (Or, download a sheet of Halloween napkin art here.)

2. Insert a piece of the transfer paper into your printer as directed on the package. In the printer dialog box, select “transfer paper” from the paper type menu or set the printer function as directed by the transfer paper instructions.

3. Print the images and cut them out as close the edge of the image as possible.

4. Place the napkin on an ironing board or a table that is protected with a towel. Place the image, ink side down, on one corner of a napkin and cover with an iron on high setting (no steam) for 10 to 15 seconds (or as directed by the instructions that come with the transfer paper). Remove the paper backing to reveal the image. Here I’ve printed on one corner of the napkin, but you could easily create a scene along an edge, or fill each corner with an image. You could use the same image on each napkin or create your own theme. You may also use this technique for other holidays and celebrations … the possibilities are endless!

*When purchasing transfer paper, make sure it is for the type of printer you have (such as an ink jet) and for the type of fabric you will be using (colored cotton).

Table setting tip: Layer a white dinner plate with a felt Halloween cut-out (about $1 each at craft stores) and a clear glass dinner plate for instant Halloween flair! And remember, every evening can be a special event when you set a fun table. Why wait for “company”?

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Ravenous Hallowen Candles

Posted by on Oct 3, 2011

As with many of my craft projects, I am inspired by looks I see in magazines or my favorite home stores. This year, I spied some vintage newsprint candles. I liked a lot about them, except the price: $29.50 each! I knew I could do better. While searching for vintage news clipart online, I was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, and quickly found a complete verse of his classic poem, “The Raven.” In a few minutes, I had created the perfect candle wrap. (You can access the Raven Candle Template.) Print it on vellum or parchment paper (as I have here) and then get creative!

Here I wrapped a flameless 4-inch diameter candle (center) and trimmed the top edge with a thin black grosgrain ribbon. The paper edge extends a few inches above the candle, but it’s flameless. (Always practice candle safety!) For the pillars, I wrapped a two-inch band of black cardstock around each pillar and cut 1 ½ inch strips of the Raven print, and cut the long edges with deckle-edged shears. Everything is secured with double-stick tape.The possibilities are limitless. You could frame the image for a quick piece of art, wrap glass votive holders, laminate the sheets as placemats … and it will all have a coordinated look.

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