Neighbor Gifts

I'm aware of some neighborhoods that do a Charity Drive to discourage the
practice of "Neighbor Gifts".

My own neighborhood is one of them!

But, I choose to continue giving gifts to my immediate neighbors at least. 
Most of my neighbors do the same! So much for the discouragement! haha. 
The charity gift still happens, but I think for the most part people really want to 
acknowledge their individual neighbors with a little treat of some kind.

So, today I presented a segment on my local News Morning Show
for easy, last-minute and inexpensive "Neighbor Gifts"!
This was a last minute request from the reported I hosted in my home,
so I really was forced to make sure that the items I presented were fast and easy to do!
In all, I gave 6 ideas and suggestions.

I'll highlight each of them here, 
and then provide the links for the Printables and the Recipes.

(you can see my fun Woodland Tree behind the table, and part of my vintage collection to the side,
with my village just barely visible in the background!)

The photo above was the first set up for my segment this morning.  
We filmed it in my kitchen with the table in front of my island. You can see my cute Kitchen Christmas tree and vignettes behind the table! You can also see my oven which needed a 
good cleaning and didn't get it. Please don't look too closely! ;) 

Shown here are all of the gifts I created...
Epsom Salt Mason Jar Candle Holders,
Bread Pudding Ornament Tin, 
Vintage Santa Christmas Oranges,
Gingerbread House Kit,
Berry Basket Cookie Holder,
and Homemade Jingle Bell Ornaments.

Here's a closeup of the Vintage Santa Oranges printable and bags,

This is the Bread Pudding Ornament Tin. 
and the printable is here if you want to use this one that I designed on PicMonkey.
I used a hole punch to make a hole to thread the silver pipe cleaner through at the top,
and then I tied a simple bow to the top. Though you're not really going to be hanging this,
it gives a fun look to the whole presentation.

These are the Epsom Salt Mason Jar Candle Holders. These require just a couple of items:
Jar of choice,
Epsom Salt,
Mod Podge,
Accessories and Embellishments 

Simply apply the Mod Podge where you want the Epsom Salt to be, and then sprinkle or roll it on.
It could not be easier! Let them sit for 3 hours before touching, and then embellish
to your liking. I even glued a candlestick from the Dollar Store onto the base of 
one of the jars using E-6000. Super cute and easy.
You can add more Epsom Salt inside the jar for more snow effect.
In the jar with the ribbon and the acorn, there are 5 little real acorns nestled on top of the snow. CUTE!

This is the printable that I created (go HERE for the link) for the
"Build your own Gingerbread House" Kit.
I made the house shapes (walls, etc), and included a packet of Meringue Powder in the bag.
It's pretty self-explanatory to put together a Gingerbread House, right?

I also created quick little cookie holders out of Red Paper Berry Baskets that
I found at Michaels. On the front I used a kraft paper doily and wrapped it with Bakers twine,
and then I attached some cute tags, one from a paper stack, and another
that I created with our family name on PicMonkey. I filled them both with Gourmet Cookies,
which I BOUGHT (gasp!), and they look darling! Sometimes, in the interest of time, you just
have to rely on the goods at your favorite specialty stores.
In my case, that would be HomeGoods and Big Lots.

And finally, the last item I shared for an easy gift is a handmade ornament.
I happen to have a gazillion Christmas ornaments in my stash (I'm literally not kidding)
and some of them are just perfect for dressing up to create a whole new look.
That's what I showed in my segment...a sweet little rustic Jingle Bell that I
dressed up with some greenery, holly leaves and a candy-cane striped yarn bow.

So there are my Quick and Easy, AND Inexpensive, Neighbor Gift Ideas.
Of course, any of them would also work for friend gifts.
Hope you enjoy creating your own!

Temple Square Christmas Lights

This past weekend, my husband and I were lucky enough to receive tickets to watch the Christmas Special performed live at the LDS Conference Center....just us and 20,000 or so other people. 
You know, just a little small crowd. Haha!

Before the concert, we walked over to Temple Square to see the lights and get some photos.

It was very lovely, as usual. Such a special feeling there all year long, 
but particularly so at this time of year.

I'm torn about my favorite part of Temple Square at Christmas,
 but it's really amazing to gaze across the reflection pool to see the Salt Lake Temple standing stately 
behind the statues of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus.

Around the plaza, as well as on the Temple Square grounds,
trees are lit meticulously with thousands of bright lights. Some are colored, and some are white.
All of them are beautiful. 

The photo above is looking across the reflection pong towards the Giant Tree structure
that presides at the front of the plaza. You can see it from everywhere around the square. 
Surrounding it are many trees of different colors. I was particularly fond of the small trees that are lit with a combination of bright green and blue lights on the same tree. 
I really liked how that looked, both from a distance and up close.

(It was almost impossible to get any photos without people in gets very crowded 
in the evenings, especially on the weekends).

I am including this photo of the large tree from the other side. Isn't it just so pretty? SO many lights!


The 2nd photo is from lower looking towards the left to show the Temple.
I decided to make this one with no color to show the grandeur of both structures.
That's the moon you can see in the lower half of the tree, between it and the Temple.

On the square near the Tabernacle, hangs this giant Compass. It has the look of a snowflake,
and I love how it just floats above the flower beds. It's quite stunning.

My final photo is of a tree near the Assembly Hall. Like several around the square and plaza, 
it was VERY full of reddish orange lights. 
With a lawn full of snow reflecting below it, 
it takes on a glow that is rather sunset-like. Simply beautiful.

If you've never been to Temple Square at Christmas time, you are missing out!
Go. Soon. Really, go soon!
The lights, Nativity Displays, Decorated Trees and Free Musical Programs
last through New Years Eve.

Temple Square is the perfect place to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ
and reflect on the gift of his life, and light, to all the world.

For more info about Temple Square and the LDS church, you can visit this link.

Spooky-Cute Halloween Fireplace

I may have gone just a little totally bonkers with my Halloween Decor this year.

Normally, I only decorate my front porch. Years ago, when my kids were little, I would do more things inside my house but it's been YEARS since I've done so.

So, what brought this on? This need to go Halloween Crazy? I'm not sure. It might have something to do with the recent blood moon. Hahaha. 

So I hope you enjoy the mantle and hearth that I created as much as I enjoyed creating it! It all started with those cute striped treat bags on the garland. I found them at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago, and ever since I brought them home, ideas have been brewing in my head! 

The only new things I bought new for this display were the trio of pumpkin buckets that I made into a topiary (which cost me all of $2, including the witch hat), the books (man, did I get lucky on those titles and colors, or what??) the creepy cabbage patch doll, the vintage glam witch (she got a makeover as she was a .50 Nun when I brought her home), the Halloween Head Witch (at Home most expensive purchase but only $10 and I LOVE her!) and printed photos that I edited from family pictures and images I found for free online! All but the pumpkin head witch and the photos came from the Thrift Store. Everything else I already owned. I completely love repurposing things....and more details to come in the photos below!

Flower Fairy Hidden Garden

I LOVE the changing of seasons. It's one of the reasons I love living here in the gorgeous state of Utah. 

Due to my creative personality, I ALWAYS get a burst of creative energy when the seasons start to change (with maybe the exception of going into summer, because I don't love heat). I just feel the need to make STUFF and create vignettes, and cook and CREATE. 


(Sadly, I don't really feel the need to clean...haha). 

Anyway, this is what I made today! (I'm on a serious creating binge right now and this is the first thing I've finished....I have about 15 floral and decor projects in mind...not kidding). 


  A Flower Fairy Secret Garden!

Keep reading to learn how I created this!

July Heritage Month in Utah

Here in Utah we have 2 BIG Holidays that the entire state celebrates and recognizes:

Of course, the 4th of July!!

Then we also have our State Holiday, the 24th of July, otherwise known as "Pioneer Days" or the "Days of '47". 


Pioneers are the people who settled Utah, when they came as Mormon settlers from across the plains from as far East as New York. Many came from a Mormon Encampment in Ohio. Either way, it's a long way across the continent, through very rugged terrain. And not in a car or even on a train, mind you. No, most Mormon Pioneers came by wagon. Some were pulled by oxen or horses, but many were pioneers. Those are known as "Handcarts" and the people who pushed them were "Handcart Pioneers". They are the most revered of all our Mormon Ancestors for the trails they endured to reach this beautiful valley we now call home. 


Because I love to decorate, I usually do my porch decor to celebrate a portion of both of these holidays in July, even though it means a quick change-a-roo of some of the elements. Over the years I have done a wide variety of decor that worked for both holidays, but I prefer to celebrate the Pioneer potion of it on it's own when I'm able.


This is my porch for the 4th of July this year:


And some close ups:


Just a little FYI....this wreath won me a "Best of Show" Ribbon at our State Fair last year!!


The layout of my furniture stayed the same for my 24th of July Porch, but here is what it looks like now:



And here are some close-ups of this design:


I planned the colors and theme of this design around those in our state flag, including Blue, Yellow and Red, and I also included our state symbol, which is the Beehive. Incidentally, my OWN personal symbol is also the Beehive, because my name means "Industrious", and the beehive is the symbol for industry!

Tutorials for how to make the 2 Covered Wagon decorations below!


This past week, I presented some of these (plus more as shown below) Holiday Celebration Ideas on Studio 5/KSL TV.


Here is what my display looked like there on the studio set:



I shared some great ideas for four Holidays: Canada Day, The 4th of July, Bastille Day/French Liberation Day, and Pioneer Day! 4 different Holidays in one TV Segment....that's a first for me!


Here is the video so you can watch it:



  I want to point out that I got exactly 24 hours notice to present this segment! Lucky for me, (or more accurately, lucky for the show producers who called me due to a cancellation) I have a lot of STUFF and was able to pull this off despite being gone for 9 hours on the very day I got the request! That's crazy, right??


So all but 2 of the items (plus some International flags I picked up that day) were things I already own, and the 4th of July items were already on my front porch!


 The two items I created from scratch just for the show are the Covered Wagon craft, and the cookie craft. For not having a plan or anything patterns, I think I did pretty good! Especially given the very short notice to create something! 


During the segment, I highlighted how to make these cookie treats/place markers:


  And here's a Picture Tutorial for you to make them!



Cookie Wagon Supplies and Instructions:


~ Peanut Butter Base cookie (I used Peanut Gauchos from Mother's Brand, but you could use Nutter Butters or another square cookie. It could even be a chocolate cookie, I just liked the color of this one.) 

 ~  1 wafer cookie

  ~1 giant Marshmallow 

  ~ 4 Ritz Bits Crackers

  ~ 2 small Pretzel sticks

  ~ Candy melt (I wish I'd used some of the pumpkin spice candy melts I have left from the fall...the color would have been perfect to blend in)



And now I'll show you how I made this cute Shabby Chic Covered Wagon, which now resides on my Pioneer Day Porch:



Here is a Picture Tutorial for this as well:




Growing "Lemon Thyme" Groundcover for Cooking


I love, love, LOVE Lemon Thyme.

It is hands down, my favorite Herb ever (followed closely by any other lemon variety of other herbs).

I can't get enough of that freshness and yummy lemon scent and flavor in my fingers, my nostrils, and in my food.

I want it ALL THE THYME!!

(sorry, I could not resist that!)



 Hi. My name is Emily and I grow a ground cover just so I can eat it. Well, mostly...because it's pretty too.  :)


DIY Watercolor Table Runners

Are you ready for some creative FUN??


Would you like to try a technique that will have you hooked within minutes?


Do you love beautiful watercolors? Do you enjoy creating things for your home?


If so, I have just the thing for you to try:


Watercolor Table Runners and Placemats


Does the sample above look like I painted it on my own? I have a secret...I didn't "HAND-paint" it, But I "Semi-Handmade" it!


(Have you heard of Sandra Lee "Semi-Homemade" Cooking?? Same idea, but with crafts instead of Food. Heehee. I love her by the way...she's my hero!)

How did I do that? By using Rubber Stamps, some special brushes, and a very unique formulation of "gel ink" that I created while experimenting with this watercolor painting on fabric technique.



So now I'm going to teach you how you can do the same thing. And you are going to LOVE the results. I'm not going to say it's "Fool-proof", because it's not. You will never receive the exact same results I attained because your fabric, dying and painting mediums and technique are all going to vary from mine. But that's the FUN part! I want to inspire you to try your hand at this technique and create your own beautiful pieces of art! I have to say that I can't draw to save my life...I run for the hills if someone says "Pictionary"! BUT, I love to paint, and I especially love to paint with watercolors, as long as I have stamped something down, or I have a printed image. This is what I hope to share with those of you that think you can't paint....YOU CAN!! If I can do it, you can too!!


Are you excited to get started?? Let's do it! But first....Here are some photos of my creations for some inspiration and ideas. Please be thinking about what YOU want to create as you look through them. I'm not giving exact recipes or instructions for any particular design that I did...just guidelines!

Kids Cookie Decorating Party

During Spring Break, I hosted a Cookie Decorating Party for kids in my neighborhood as well as friend's kids.


This is the invite that I sent out via Facebook. I designed it to be bright and fun!


The day of the party, I set out a Welcome Sign on my porch, wrote down directions on a chalkboard, and set out the un-frosted cookies on pretty trays.


I pre-made brightly colored icings, and put scoops into little individual cups with enough to frost a single cookie....

....and pulled out all my Spring-themed Sprinkles and toppings:

Peter Rabbit, Mr McGregors Garden, and a Spring Mantle

I brought out a lot of my sweet cabbage dishes, a couple of bunnies,  some Peter Rabbit books, and a few faux veggies to create my Spring Mantle....Peter Rabbit style!


It went up about a week before Easter, and I think I'll let it stay for another week or so. It's just so fresh and charming!


 Here comes Peter Cottontail........


 Enjoy the photo tour!

Decoupaged Easter Eggs using paper napkins

I knew that I wanted my Easter Island to incorporate some of my Blue and White China pieces, and when I found these paper napkins a few weeks ago, I knew I'd found the perfect finishing detail to my design. You can see the rest of my island design HERE.


These eggs are VERY easy to make. The trick is to find napkins that have a large random design. If you try to use a pattern that repeats in a specific pattern, it won't look good on the egg. Remember that you are dealing with a curved and reducing shape, so you have to work around that. 


Here are the supplies you'll need:


~Paper Napkins

~Faux eggs (or blown out eggs, but these are so easy to break!)

~Mod Podge (I used the Glossy formula because I wanted them shiny)

~Sharp Scissors

~Foam Brush


 Remove the 1 or 2 sheets of backing that are on the napkin. It sometimes help to make a small tear in the edge so that you can see a difference between the front piece of napkin and the backing. Most will only have one sheet of backing (this is a 3-ply napkin I'm using and sometimes it will say on the package how many there are). 


The napkins I used are 3-ply, so I needed to remove 2 sheets of backing before I used it. You can skip this step, but I don't recommend it...the extra paper makes it hard to get a smooth surface and adds a lot of extra bulk around the corners when you're doing a rounded surface like this. It's best to get it down to a "tissue paper-like" working texture.


Then I simply cut the napkins into a rough circle shape and began gluing them on with the Mod Podge, pressing down the edges with the brush.  When I had covered the egg with the piece, I attached small pieces of torn napkin to fill in any areas where it didn't cover originally. This is why you want a napkin that has a random pattern or you will be able to tell that the pattern does not line up. 


It took me about 30 minutes start to finish to cover 6 eggs, and I let them dry for 2 hours before I placed them in the display. 


You can do this with the standard plastic eggs that open, but you'll want to tape down the seam first to try to minimize them breaking open. Also, the seam will be somewhat visible depending on the thickness of your napkin. I found my SEAMLESS Faux-eggs at Wal-Mart for $2.00 dozen...they are the bomb!


Try this technique today and let me know how they turn out for you!