Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays 2014: A year in Review letter

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year everyone!
Just popping in quick to show off this year's "A Year in Review" letter that I sent out along with my homemade cards to friends and family.
It is very similar to previous years, I admit, but with new info. There is only so much time in my life to create new things!
For those that have asked about my previous year's letter, as well as this letter- YES- I did create this on my own. I did it as a combination of vector graphics I made in Illustrator and beefed it up in Photoshop. It is NOT a template I purchased from somewhere, and I didn't pay anyone to make it for me. I made it all by myself.
Now that that is cleared up (You would not believe how many people have asked me what template program I used to create it) I can show off this year's letter.
I wanted to focus on the big events, our travels, the shows we've done and the memorable moments of each part of the year...

Here's the letter we sent out this year (I just whited out our address info- don't need the whole world knowing that).
To see it closer, just click on the image.
Do you do a yearly letter with your Christmas cards or do you not find it necessary? I'd love to know what everyone else does around the world.
Well, I'm off to go have some more tea, as I've been feeling terrible the past 2 days. I guess I seem to have caught a winter cold (BOO!).
So, in case I don't manage to get online much, Have a VERY Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, from our house to yours!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sending JOY to family members: Homemade Christmas gifts

I pride myself in sending at least one homemade item to friends and family each year for Christmas. I always enjoy getting homemade items myself, honestly.
This year I racked my brain as to what to make. While browsing the internet, I found someone mentioning "photo holder blocks" which sparked my interest.
These I made with a little more modern look.
I found the blocks online and once I got them in the mail, I got to work making the photo holder blocks. I cut down the holiday patterned paper to squares and adhered them to each side of the block. I had to get crafty to get the top square to work around the already glued in wire (*sigh*) but after decorating the fronts, and adding some washi tape, it was good to go. They turned out super cute, I think.
Some I added washi tape to the block itself- but realized I didn't have enough to do this to ALL the blocks.
Some people I made a 3 set, spelling out "JOY" and others I sent a single photo block (the prices to do all 3 joy block sets started to add up, so did the time to make them all, so I had to downsize my original idea.)
A solo photo block for one of my friends (who's cat's name is Apollo, btw. haha)
Anyways, I thought they turned out cute.
Do you try your hand at homemade Christmas gifts too? I'd love to see some homemade Christmas gifts you've made.
Have a great day!

Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Drinks of Christmas party

So last week (on 12/12) we hosted a "12 Drinks of Christmas" get together at our house.

It all stems from a friend's traditional 12 bars of Christmas event- but since they no longer live in the area, they passed on the reigns to us. After much debate amongst our friends and ourselves (and crunching the numbers of money) we decided to just host everyone at our house and make 12 specialty drinks instead (it also is a LOT safer- people can sleep over after having too many drinks).
So what are the drinks you may ask? Well. Here was the drink menu of the night:

We also had some festive chips. lol

All we asked of our friends was to either provide a food item/dish or $12 towards paying for the drinks/food. We cranked up the toasty heat and blasted the Christmas tunes...
We even turned up the "yule log" on the tv. haha
Overall things went well. I personally only made it to drink #9- I was just too full- too much food and drinks made my stomach feel like I was ready to be rolled down the hall like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka. haha. 
The drinks I didn't get to was the Jolly shot (jollyrancher shot), Pumpkin Pie shot, and the hot rum cider. Overall, my favorite probably was the first one- I just love Rumchata.

The recipes we found online were all a little different, but here is what we did for each, roughly. (sorry- forgot to photograph the last 2)

 Caramel Apple pie cocktail: apple cider, rumchata

 Jack Frost cocktail: pineapple juice, blue curacao

Snowchata shot: rumchata, peppermint candy on rim and sprinkled inside

Christmas in Mexico margaritas: tequila, limeaide

Red jello shot: red jello, peach schnapps

Butterbeer drink: butterscotch, cream soda

Green jello shot: green jello, green apple pucker or midori, hint of apple vodka

Cranberry cocktail: cranberry juice, ginger-ale, vodka

 Grinch drink: Midori or apple pucker, sprite

Jolly shot: homemade jolly rancher vodka (jolly ranchers+plain vodka), splash of tart vodka

Pumpkin pie shots:  pumpkin spice liquor, vanilla vodka, buttershots
Hot Rum & cider drink: cider, apple, orange, cinamon sticks, spiced rum 

So has this inspired some holiday themed beverages for you?
Hope you're having a great week!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Subscription Box Review: December Ipsy Glam Bag

Welcome to another Subscription Box Review! Check out my previous Subscription box reviews here.

December Ipsy Glam Bag:

This month's Ipsy Glam bag is themed "Thinking of You." Honestly- it was probably one of my least favorite bags- nothing really extremely excited me even when I saw the preview (except for one product, which I sadly didn't get in my bag- booo!) The bag itself wasn't anything special either. Not sure if the holidays had the Ipsy crew scrambling, but this was by far the least exciting glam bag I've gotten thus far. 

Here's what came in My Glam Bag:

Honestly, I don't think I'll ever use this. I am a very low-maintenance hair product gal- I rarely blow-dry my hair in general. Most of the time I let my hair air-dry or put it in a clip till it drys. I'm sure its great for those that use hair styling product- but it really isn't the product for me.

It's a nice and functional brush. I'll certainly use it- I do like a good eye shadow application. First time I've gotten a brush in my bag, so I'm not complaining much about it.

I'll try it- not sure how often I'll use it, but my eyes could use some relaxation.

Not a bad lip balm- the flavor isn't anything special. Overall, doesn't wow me, but I'll use it.

This is probably the only think I was excited to get. I always am on the hunt for a good mascara- since when I do wear it with my contacts, I always struggle with getting one that doesn't irritate my eyes. We shall see how this one fares.

I personally was a little disappointed this month with my glam bag- when I saw the preview of products, I prayed I'd get the Mineral Eye Polish by Cailyn, but sadly I did not. ;(
Hopefully next month they will wow me a bit more.
Have a great day all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chair-ished memories: The tale of two chairs

Being it is Christmas time, often we are reminded of the things we hold dear. Memories, loved ones, special items- all of these things in our lives we cherish. We also all have certain items in our homes that bring about those memories, especially ones given to us from loved ones.
This brings me to today's post- I was recently asked by Chairish, a place for design lovers to buy and sell Vintage & Used Furniture, Decor, Jewelery and Accessories online, What do you "Chairish"?
Chairish is the go-to place to find great vintage furniture, like that of my own vintage chairs below (though mine are not for sale), with thousands of listings all in one fun place! Check out their vintage furniture selection here: www.chairish.com/collection/furniture
Many people have vintage furniture or items that have been passed down through the generations- and all of these items have a story behind them. Let me tell you about my two "Chairished" Chairs:

These 2 black leather chairs were originally my Grandmother Sally's. As a kid visiting during either Thanksgiving or Christmas (we could only afford to fly out there once a year) I often would sit in those chairs looking out the guest bedroom window at the snow outside. I lived in Florida until I was 12 years old, so the only snow I ever got to see in person was when we visited both sets of my grandparents, who lived in two different parts of Illinois. As a small child, I would just stare at it falling for hours outside. It was so beautiful and calm.
My grandparents when they were "young'ns"
When I got a little older (and had moved to Pennsylvania, where there was plenty of times to experience snow in the winter), I spent a little less time sitting on those chairs, but still admired them for their "retro feel." My grandmother had a lot of cool retro items in her home- an old full-beehive-style head hairdryer, a huge old green stove, a classic old bubble-lights on the tree, just to name a few. But it was those 2 black leather chairs that I'd always comment that I hoped I could find a similar set in my future home.
One of the last times I was up visiting my grandmother, I was talking about how I was trying to decorate/furnish my apartment- going the retro look. I mentioned to my grandmother that I searched for chairs like her cool black leather ones, but couldn't find any. She told me, "Well. Someday you can have those chairs. Just not today."
My grandparents back in their hayday. 
That was one of the last times I'd see my grandmother alive. She passed away only a few months before I got married. When my mom, aunt,uncle and cousin were sorting through her things, they knew how much I longed to have chairs like those. So my uncle took the legs off of them, and with a little muscle, made them fit in my parents car to take them to Pennsylvania for me. I was so grateful. I truely "chairish" those chairs. To this day, they still are in our home- they might have changed rooms as we moved around from apartments to our final home, as well as different pillows thrown on them, but they always were one of my most favorite furniture items.
Their spot in one of the many apartments we lived in...
They've had their share of stories since we acquired them-people falling asleep in them after a Christmas party at our house, or how the backs of them got some paint on them from the walls of the one apartment because we tried to squeeze them into a space too small for them. They even were used in a community theater production of "The Odd Couple" when I played one of the Pigeon sisters.
One of the chairs in this scene from "The Odd Couple" (I'm the one in the red, black and white dress)
Currently they are sitting in our bedroom. Even though they aren't getting as much "butt sitting" use as they used to, they've gotten their use of holding piles of laundry, being a place for my cat Wendy to lounge and a place to sit when I'm putting on my shoes to go out.
At one point we had the chairs on either side of our dresser, but they've since been moved to the foot of our bed.
Along with their actual use of being chairs- they are the constant reminder of my grandparents house and all the fun memories of looking out the window at the winter snowfall. I know it sounds funny- but those chairs always remind me of Christmas.
I truely "Chairish" those chairs. lol
Please excuse our not very well made bed- I was exausted by the time this was taken and didn't feel like making it properly. lol
What do you cherish/chairish? Do you have any items you hold dear to your heart, given to you by someone in your family? I'd love to hear from you (and I'm sure Chairish would too!)
Have a great day all!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Simple Christmas Cards- using Stampin Up! products and leftover Paper Pumpkin items

Hey all! It's Christmas card making time in my house...

At a Stampin Up! getaway weekend back in April, I was preemptive and precut card bases, embossed them, stamped and punched ornaments and precut patterned paper to make these cards:

I honestly forgot I did this, if it wasn't for finding the "ready to go card kit" when I was re-organizing and taking all my crafting supplies into our newly created office/craft space/mini dining area. lol. All I had to do was adhear all the pieces together, stamp the sentiment and add the ribbon. Made making a bunch of these cards, soooo much easier.

I also created the card below, with a tag given to us at the October crop. I used a "banner" style card base (that I got in Michael's dollar bin area) and I think it worked out well for a simple, but non-Christmasy winter card.

After opening up my Paper Pumpkin package from this month, I started working on the cards in the package to add to my giant list of Christmas cards needed this year. After finishing the snowflake cards...

...I had the tags left. I'm not a huge tag person- most of the time I just put little slips of paper on our Xmas presents, since my hubs never realizes there are tags on them anyways, often throwing them out with the wrapping paper trash, so I only do nice tags on friend's gifts. I then came up with some Christmas card ideas to use the tags and the leftover items from the rest of the package. I also had a few other packs of those $1 card packs from Micheal's dollar bin, so I even used those up too! Check out some simple Christmas cards, used from those items (with a few items I had already, as well from Stampin Up! that I got on my getaway, similar to these cards).

I used the tag as the main part of the card. I used Washi tape behind it and at the bottom. I also used the leftover snowflakes from the set, on a honeycomb card base.

I used the inverse punched out letters from the tags to make this card's text. I did the main middle pattern with leftover washi tape. This is all done on a similar banner style card base, that came in the same pack as the card bases for the star card I showed early in this post.

I used a circle card base I also got in the Micheal's bin, with an image I had sitting around from a stamped image swap I did ages ago. I covered paper with washi tape for the mid-level and cut it out with my big circle cutter.
I also made a few more simple cards using another Micheal's card base, making them look like little Santa suits. I got inspired to do this after making a similar simplified Santa Suit treat bag from the last Stampin Up! getaway I went to. You can see all those fun projects here.

Well, I hope this inspired you to "think outside the box" of what a card kit gives you or tells you to do. I cranked out soo many cards that way! Stay tuned later in the month, when I reveal my "homemade" Christmas gifts for family members (I want to wait till I send them to my family before I reveal them to you). lol.
Have a great day!