Upcycling Christmas Cards

Hey guys! Happy 2017. New year. Clean slate.

This is my first post of the year. I’ve been busy taking it easy and enjoying the season. I’m so sad to see the holidays go, but that’s what inspired this craft:

It may be a dying tradition in this digital age, but I still LOVE getting Christmas cards. I also can’t bear to part with them at the end of the year. The sparkles, the wintry scenes, the jolly characters. Each card is so warm and pretty… and someone took the time to write out a personal message, put a stamp on it, and send it in the mail. It’s a shame to just throw them away. As you might know, I’m all about reusing and recycling, so I decided a couple years back to start upcycling my Christmas cards. I save them in a special drawer and then turn them into gift tags the next year.

It’s so fun to pull out the old cards, reread them and give them new life on top of this year’s Christmas gifts. So, if you’re like me and you still have your Christmas cards laying around (or hung up)… here’s a fun and crafty way to be green.

1. SAVE OLD CHRISTMAS CARDS


2. CUT OUT SCENES FROM CHRISTMAS CARDS INTO CIRCLES, SQUARES AND RECTANGLES OF VARIOUS SIZES

3. WRITE OUT (TO: AND FROM:) LINES

4. USE TAPE TO ADHERE UPCYCLED GIFT TAGS ONTO CHRISTMAS PRESENTS


3-Ingredient Date, Cashew & Coconut Bars

Dates, Cashews and Shredded Coconut – that’s literally the entire ingredient list for these sweet and chewy, granola-style bars.

I was inspired by the commercial for LARABARS which touts minimal, real-food ingredients like nuts, dates and fruit (no ticky-tacky!) For example, the ingredient list for LARABAR’s Cashew Cookie is two words: dates, cashews.  I’m a VERY reluctant baker, so that seemed like a manageable shopping list for a make-at-home treat.

Ok, Simple Ingredient list: check.  Simple Instructions/Equipment: double check!! A food processor is pretty much the only thing you need to bring these bars to life. No baking involved! The dates have a chewy, sticky consistency that acts as the glue to hold everything together.

bar4

First, I pulsed the cashews and coconut coarsely. Add the dates and continue to pulse until it all sticks together. Mold the mixture into a rectangle that’s about one inch thick. Then it’s off to the fridge for a few hours! I cut my bars into one inch strips. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat!

bar1

Dates offer a blank canvas for all kind of real-food, no-bake bars and snacks and I’m excited to try out some other combinations!

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups of salted cashews, unroasted
1 1/2 cups of unpitted dates
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

PREP
1. In a food processor, pulse the cashews and coconut coarsely (a few seconds should do it)
2. Add the dates to the food processor and continue to pulse until the mixture sticks together.
3. Mold the mixture into a rectangle that’s about one inch thick.
4. Refrigerate bar about 6 hours.
5. Cut bars into one inch strips. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat!

Halloween Yard Decor 2015

This is our first Halloween in our first home, and I’ve been looking forward to decorating ever since we hit September. Since we’re newbies at this, my husband and I had a “spirited” quarrel about whether to go all out on spooky, ‘scare-the-bejesus out of the neighborhood kids’ yard decorations.

I wanted to decorate with pumpkins, colorful wreaths, cute ghosts and smiling scarecrows… my huz wanted zombies. It’s fair to say our tastes clash. In the end, my husband won out with a ghoulish getup. Turns out, we have the perfect spot for a zombie graveyard in front of the dead, or possibly dying, tree in our yard. I got some of my touches in there too though. Here’s a look at how we’re decorating for this most scary of holidays, and where to find all of our decor.

Jack-O-Lantern Door Mat, Target
Leaf Garland and Fall Candles for the mantle, Hobby Lobby

 

Witch Legs, Target
Graveyard Kit, Target; Ground Breaker Zombies, Spirit Halloween
Hanging Ghouls, Target


Making Travel Shadowboxes

Each year around our anniversary, I pull out our wedding and honeymoon photo albums to spend a few blissful moments reminiscing. I realized two things: 1. We went crazy with the cameras and took an excessive amount of pictures on our trip to Paris. 2. I’m incredibly grateful that we had the good sense to save every tourist brochure, every ticket stub, and many receipts from our wanderings.

Our pictures are neatly displayed in an album, but the mementos somehow got shoved in the back of a tourist guide book that was practically covered in cob webs inside a basement cabinet. I’m not kidding you guys – there was screaming involved in the recovery mission! As I started thumbing through the pile of museum passes and ticket stubs, it struck me that these mementos are just as beautiful and meaningful as our photos, and they deserve to be presented as such.

I was inspired to organize our souvenirs into a shadowbox after coming across this project picture from Athletes Abroad on Pinterest. Cute, right?

Courtesy: Athletes Abroad
Courtesy: Athletes Abroad

I spent an afternoon assembling my own personalized shadowbox and as I was working, I got a few more ideas for mementos to save when we travel to Iceland next month.

Here’s a list of materials to create a shadowbox:

1. A picture frame that has some depth between the glass and background. I used an 8×8 frame. (Craft stores also call them memory boxes)
2. Scrapbook paper to use as a background
3. Photos that can be cut into letters or shapes
4. Museum passes/ticket stubs
5. Paper restaurant menus (don’t steal the actual menus!)
6. Drink Coasters
7. Wine corks/Beer & Liquor caps from the local bottles and brews
8. Stickers that evoke a memory
9. Gift shop knick-knacks like key chains/magnets/small figurines
10. Hotel note pads
11. Dinner credit card receipts to remember a special meal

I started my project by choosing a nice grey polka-dot background that wouldn’t overwhelm my mementos. Cut your paper to fit the frame by tracing around the cardboard backing.

Use pictures or brochures to cut out the letters for your travel location.

Since I’m not a big crafter I had no idea there was such a thing as glue dots. They are AWESOME! The dots securely hold your mementos in place against the background paper, and it’s super easy to work the dispenser!

How To Dry Lavender

It’s the peak of lavender season in the Pacific Northwest, which means it’s time to start cutting those purple bundles of beauty growing in the garden.

Since I’ve been posting about my lavender love,  friends have been asking how to utilize their lavender stems for something other than fragrant landscaping. Drying lavender is one of my favorite ways to give these gorgeous plants an endless lifespan. The process is effortless, and the dried buds have so many applications. Here are a few of my favorites:

* I love to display the buds in a decorative bowl with a few drops of lavender essential oil. It acts as a natural air freshener for the home.
* Keep a bowl of buds by your bedside or at work to help relieve stress.
* Sachets make lovely (and inexpensive) homemade favors for weddings, baby showers, and other parties.
* Use a decorative bowl of buds as an aromatic girls night centerpiece (then hand out organza bags to your buds and let them scoop out some lavender buds to take home!)
* Celebrate the bride and groom by throwing lavender buds instead of rice.

Harvesting your own dried lavender buds at home is super easy. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial that will have your home smelling like lavender in no time!

Step One: Cut Lavender Stems 
I cut my stems when about half of the buds have opened up. Lavender plants need to be pruned anyway to keep their shape,  so this is the perfect opportunity to give it a trim. Cut a nice handful with the stems roughly the same size.

Step Two: Bundle The Stems
Put a rubber band around the bottom of the bundle to hold the flowers together. Place the bundle in an empty vase (no water) and display in a cool, dry space for about a week.

Step Three: Harvest The Buds
This is the fun part. I suggest taking the dried lavender and a big bowl or a bucket outside since the buds tend to fall off very easily. Hold the dried lavender bundle over the bucket and bang the bundle around inside the container to shake off and capture all the loose buds.

Then use your hands to pinch off all the remaining buds. One bundle yields quite few buds.

Step Four: Display the buds.
Scoop the lavender buds into a sachet for a fragrant gift, or display them in a bowl as a unique home decoration.

Voluntourism at Woodinville Lavender

 

Last week, I started a new annual summer tradition – volunteering with the lavender harvest at Woodinville Lavender in beautiful Woodinville, WA.   

July is the peak for the lavender bloom, which means it’s happening right now! It’s a breathtaking experience. One for the bucket list for anyone who lives in the Seattle area.

The farm and gift store is open year-round, but it’s at its most brilliant in the summer months. The manicured rows of vibrant lavender offer a sensual aromatherapy experience.

For the casual visitor
Bite into a lavender ice cream bar (yes, I said lavender ice cream) and wander the fields: The farm grows many different varieties of lavender – each one is a little different from the other. For lavender fanatics, it’s a treat to compare the rows and pick out your favorite.

U-Pick: The farm offers visitors the opportunity to cut a fresh bouquet, or take home a dried wreath from the gift shop. Get lost exploring all of the lavender products in the store.  From teas and culinary lavender tins to lotions and floral water,  Woodinville Lavender has all kinds of imaginative uses for lavender.

Patio: Relax with a lavender lemonade on the patio and open your senses to the purple hues and distinctive fragrance radiating off the field.

The lavender addict that I am, I wanted a more hands-on experience at the farm. I’m obsessed with lavender and learning everything there is to know about bringing more of it into my life. To that end,  the farm generously offers harvesting and bundling classes,  demonstrations,  and special events all year round. Be sure to like the farm on Facebook for time and date updates.

Harvest Volunteering
Lavender Bundling: Farm owner Tom Frei was our gracious host and teacher. Tom, wisely, handled the cutting with a sickle, and we volunteers bundled the bunches with rubber bands to get them ready for drying. I couldn’t believe how pungent the fields were. My hands have never smelled so good after handling all the flowers. I wish I permanently smelled like lavender! There were only 5 of us working in the field, but we were definitely not alone. The garden was absolutely buzzing with honey bees! I have a deep-rooted terror of bees, but between the calming scent of lavender and Tom’s reassurance that the bees had no interest in harming us, my fear quickly dissipated. He was right, they left us alone to go about our harvesting adventure. Not one sting!

Drying the lavender: With hundreds of bundles piled up, it was time to hang them out to dry. I learned a super easy technique for bundling and drying the lavender you might have growing at home:
1. Cut a generous handful of lavender stems.
2. Tie the bottom stems secure using a rubber band.
3. Open up a paper clip so there’s a hook on each end. Thread one hook through the rubber band. Use the other hook to hang on some netting or a nail in a cool, dry place!

Volunteering was such a rewarding experience. I went into it to get tips about how to cut and dry my own lavender, but I got so much more out of it. It was truly part-tourism, part-volunteering, all love for lavender.

DIY Canvas Art: Circles

DIY Canvas
We’ve been in our new house for almost a month and I couldn’t wait to tackle my first easy, money-saving decor project: Canvas Art! I love three piece abstract canvas collections, but they are often outrageously overpriced in stores and online. Not to mention, they’re normally just mass produced prints. I decided I could create a collection that is just as chic and perfectly matches my home’s color scheme for a fraction of the price. I went with a circle theme and I’m so happy with the way my canvas art turned out!

So, here’s what you’ll need to create your own three piece circle canvas art:
*3 Canvases, size of your choosing (I got mine from Hobby Lobby)
*Acrylic Paint, at least 3 different colors plus a base color if you decide to cover the white canvas completely (these normally cost less than $2 dollars – a small bottle is all you’ll need)
*Plastic Cups and/or Dixie Cups (one for each circle color)
*Large round plastic garbage pail (yes, really) – an alternative would be paper plates with a rounded ridge.
*Circle Stencils
*Sponge Tip Paint Brushes – one for each color
canvas art cupsINSTRUCTIONS

Day 1. First, I painted all three canvases a deep gray. It serves as a base color and lends continuity to all three canvases. Allow the canvases to dry for 24 hours.
canvas stencilDay 2. I used my stencils, garbage pail and cups to create circles of various sizes on the canvases. Start with the circles you plan to completely fill in, we’ll do the outlined circles tomorrow! To create your color circles with a stencil, hold the stencil flat against the canvas, then using your sponge brush make long strokes from the edge of the stencil toward the middle of the canvas to create an edge that won’t bleed. Fill in the circle with color.
canvas paint
To create color circles using plastic cups and garbage pails, dip the rim of the cup/pail in paint until it’s fully coated. Carefully stamp down on the canvas. Lift up slowly to prevent splashing of paint. Then fill in the outline with paint. Allow your colored circles to dry for 24 hours.
Canvas art
Day 3. It’s time to make your outlined circles. I overlapped the outlines with the circles that are filled in. Take your cups and garbage pails, dip the rim in paint until it’s fully coated. Stamp down on the canvas and hold for a few seconds. Carefully, lift up on the cup/pail to avoid color splashing. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

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Summer of Lavender Recipe Roundup

Summer of Lavender
With “Back to School” pictures and blog posts about “Must-Have Fall Boots” beginning to clutter my social media feeds, I must accept the fact that summer is drawing to a close.

Don’t get all mopey yet! It’s been a fun summer here on my blog, and there are still a few weeks left to enjoy. I’ve adored sharing my love and passion for all things lavender with you in my Summer of Lavender Series. With the help of Pelindaba Lavender in Friday Harbor, Washington, I created some of my favorite posts to date.

In case you missed it, here’s a look at what we’ve been up to this summer.

1. Blueberry Lavender Bundt Cake

blueberry lavender cake
2. Salmon With Lavender & Basil
Lavender and Basil Salmon
3. Lavender Hydrosol
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4. Lavender Lemonade
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5. Lavender-Infused Vodka
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6. Lavender Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
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