Colorful Christmas

Happy December 28th everyone!

I know, I know. Nothing really special about this date. Except now we’re past Christmas, and past Boxing Day, and can finally relax a bit. I’m taking advantage of the unseasonable warmth and going on a hike later today, but this morning was all about relaxing with a mug of cocoa and one of my favorite presents: an adult coloring book!017

I’ve been seeing these everywhere this year, and even bought one for my sister-in-law-to-be. But I’ve been coloring and making my own coloring pages for years. So I was super excited to open not one but two coloring books. One is actually a calendar, so I’m excited for the challenge of coloring a page a month.

The other is an adult coloring book with animal designs published by Blue Star. My sister got one too and we’ve been coloring together. I thought I’d share some of my finished pages, as well as a WIP.008I tackled this one first, as it was one of the simpler designs. It was delightful using prisma colored pencils for this. I’ve not really used them much since I took art classes, but they were perfect for this book.005
These are supposed to be super relaxing. And they are, at first. But as I get closer to finishing, I get sort of frantic to complete each page, so that’s a bit of a drawback. But still, super fun!

And the pages are sturdy enough to even stand up to watercolors! Or at least water color pencils…003Anyway, that’s how I’ve been relaxing. I hope you’ve all found something as well!

How to Make Winter Bright

It’s been unseasonably warm in my neck of the woods. Like 70 F, instead of 30 F. Weird, unnatural, and not the thing to get me in the mood for Christmas. So I decided to create my own winter wonderland to feel warm and cozy with. And you can too!

Materials:001 (2)

  1. empty glass jar
  2. paint brush
  3. acrylic paint
  4. candle

Procedure:

  1. Make sure your jar is squeaky clean. I wiped mine down with Windex.
  2. Paint a winter scene on the outside of the jar.002 (2)
  3. Stick a candle in it, turn off the lights, and pretend the snow is falling outside! Or that you wandered up to a winter campfire! Or that you’re going deep into the woods to find the perfect tree.lovely

Tips and suggestions:

  1. Make a few out of different sized jars to create a nice grouping.YES
  2. Pay attention to the direction and look of your brushstrokes and use them to your advantage. I kept mine going down and out from the center to make the pine tree jar.brush
  3. Paint a soft band around the lower edge of the jar to hide the candle and diffuse its warm glow.
  4. If you have a deep jar and a little candle, use a pair of tongs to help position the candle. 

So go forth and paint yourself a wonderland!

It’s Beginning…

…To Look a Lot Like Christmas!

If you read my last post, you’ll know I’ve already made Christmas cookies. And I’m in full swing now. But what’s my favorite thing?

Well, although I love the poinsettia as a living centerpiece, it’s not the best thing.014

And stringing vintage Christmas balls between my bookshelves makes a fun and beautiful accent, but isn’t my main event.006

I’ve set up my nativity, with an angel watching from on on high, but we’re still waiting for Jesus.007

I’ve even baked more cookies, Doctor Who themed this time. But while they’re tasty, they’re not it.001

What’s gotten me super-duper excited is this:004

My Christmas cactus is going to bloom! And for the first time in about five years! It had a really rough time with all the moves in college, but when I moved to my current digs a few months ago, I scouted the perfect lighting location and gave my little guy plenty of love, and it paid off!005

I’ll share pictures of the blooms when they open 🙂

 

How about all of you? What’s getting you most excited about the upcoming holidays?

Christmas Baking!

It’s only December 5th, but Christmas baking has already begun! And I took it to the next level with the help of royal icing!tinMy fiance was out of town, and my Dad was out of town, so my Mom and I met up for a weekend of festive baking! We also ran a 5K (my first ever!) to “justify” of the eating of said cookies 🙂

I’d never used royal icing, and was always a bit intimidated by it. I mean, come on! It looks so glossy and professional! My sugar cookies were always decked with sprinkles and jimmies put on before baking. I figured it worked well enough, and was easy. But that was before royal icing. Now painstakingly placing individual sprinkles seems the daftest thing I’ve ever done. Because royal icing is fun, fast, and easy. And the results speak for themselves! I used a few different techniques, picked up from all over pintrest, and I’ll talk a bit about each below.

First up is piping! Super simple, super clean and chic, and super adaptable. traditionalI’ve done plenty of piping for other applications, so this was pretty familiar territory. Put the icing in a ziplock baggie, snip off a wee corner and decorate! I found it to be most striking on gingerbread, rather than on the paler sugar cookie dough.

I also used piping to create the edge of the “flooding” technique, where you pipe around the edges, and then flood the inside with a slightly runnier batch of royal icing. You can then pipe on more colors and swirl them around for all sorts of fun patterns.iced

The bell uses this flooding technique. I also tried just spreading icing on a heart cookie and doing the swirling with no border. It worked, but if you compare it to the bell, it looks a bit messier. So I mostly stuck with the piped outline.

The angel is a mix of piping (on the wings and the robe trim) and spreading (the hair and the body of the dress). Mom and I used lots of toothpicks, both for the swirling of different colors, and for applying small details, like the angel’s eye and mouth!

We had five colors going – red, blue, yellow, green, and white – plus a thinned “flooding” batch of white, piping bags, and sprinkles! Two batches of sugar cookies and a batch of gingerbread meant two days of decorating, and a delectable mess!

mess

Sorry for the poor quality; Snapped with my phone as we worked.

I also indulged in some fan-girl baking, with this Harry Potter/Ron Weasley mash-up.

yer a wizard

It’s a mash-up, cause it’s Harry’s green eyes and scar, but a ginger cookie 🙂

And last but not least, a pair of ponies. Both used the same cutter, but for the one on left, I pulled the cut-out into a jumping shape. The one on the right spread out too much so it’s a very plump pony. I was inspired by Swedish Dala horses for the decorations.

We made way more cookies than I’m sharing here, but some were eaten right away 🙂

Hopefully you get a chance to make some tasty treats of your own this holiday season!