Even though, Halloween is not widely celebrated in Switzerland, I have decided to have a festive Halloween Party complete with decorations!! Because the availability of Halloween trimmings is very limited here, it has been necessary for me to come up with a few of my own decorations. Here is what I created to adorn my front door as an ominous indicator of what may be lurking inside!
The Halloween Tentacles are very simple to make!
What do you need? Air Drying Clay – Rayher & Crayola make clay that is perfect. It is nice and light and it comes in many colors! Large Paper Clips Wire – I used 22 gauge. Floral wire will work perfectly! Wire Cutter Paint or Tape – If you wish to embellish your terrifying tentacles! I find electrical tape is wonderful to use here because it can be stretched a bit to fit tightly around the tentacle!
Here is a short video showing the entire process!
So many options – sinister stripes, ghastly green, ominous orange…
Recently on Pinterest, I found a picture of some adorable Halloween candle sculptures! The sculptures were fabulous, but I was disappointed by the fact that they could not be used as candles! For Halloween there is nothing better than the ominous glow of candle light! Lots of candle light!!
The wonderful thing about Pinterest is the inspiration it provides and that’s exactly what happened! Seeing the adorable Halloween candle sculptures on Pinterest inspired me to create my own Halloween candles!
This post is about molding candles into eerie faces, with eyes that ooze out of their sockets as the candles melt!
Now that’s a Halloween candle!
First things first – What kind of candles?
After much trial and error, I discovered that the candles with a rough texture on the surface work the best. Why? The wax is consistent throughout the entire candle.
In the picture below, you can see the two rough candles to the right and the smooth candle on the left. Do not use the candles with the smooth outer layer. The wax beneath this smooth layer is different and crumbles as you sculpt.
Also, as much as I hate to say it, beeswax candles are very difficult to use for this project. The wax is just too hard. Save those candles for all the other holidays!
On to the eyeballs! I used FIMO clay. I formed different sized and shaped eyeballs, baked them for the appropriate length of time and viola – eyeballs!
Some of the eyes I painted ahead of time and others I painted later, after inserting them into the candle! It’s totally up to you!
Softening the candle!
I found the best way to do this was to put the candle in the sun and create a greenhouse effect by covering the candle with glass. The candle will become warm and soft enough to be molded into a face.
When working with wax you must always be careful because it is flammable and can be dangerous! I found the candles, when heated this way, became quite warm and did begin to melt so you must watch them because you do not want a puddle!
Bottom line – always be careful with wax!
Now on to the molding of the face!
Once the candle is soft, push in a couple of eyeballs and start molding. I have wooden carving tools shown below that I use, but it’s not necessary. Kitchen utensils will work too!
Using your hands and tools, mold a face onto the candle. Along with eyebrows, nose and mouth, I like to add lots of wrinkles!
Here is a short video showing the molding and painting process!
One more thing, while the candle is still soft, press the bottom flat against your working surface to be sure the candle stands straight. We don’t want any tippy candles!
On to the painting!
As you can see in the above picture, it is difficult to see all the features of the candles face. By adding color in the right places on the wrinkles, nose, eyes… all those features will pop!
Below you can see that I covered the candle with paint to fill in all the wrinkles and features I added in the molding process. Once I have all the crevices filled, I removed most of the paint with paper towels. That way all that is left are the accents in all the right places!
To lengthen the drying time of your paint, which will make it easier to remove the excess paint from your candle, I mixed in an acrylic medium. You will find it right along side the acrylic paint and it is translucent white. This is useful stuff to always have on hand!
A few finishing touches around the eyes and the candle is ready for Halloween!
What a fun way to create the ominous glow of candle light for Halloween this year!
I am so glad to be back working on my blog! Life has been crazy with this and that, but now I am back!
As I am currently living in Switzerland, it is difficult to find affordable home products so my go-to retailer is IKEA. One of the really great things about IKEA is not just their fun and inexpensive products, but what you can create with them. There is even a website called IKEA Hackers which contains a vast collection of IKEA products that have been transformed into something else! The IKEA “hack” I am showing here, doesn’t really change its original use, but it vastly improves it!
The IKEA Rusch Wall Clock seen below can be purchased for less than $2! I know – even Switzerland’s price is 1.99 franc! Crazy! The problem with this clock is number 1 – the color is boring and number 2 – it is incredibly loud! I’ve read posts from people asking how to quiet it and I have a solution!
First how to quiet the Rusch IKEA Clock – Remove the cover using a flat head screw driver.
If you look carefully, you can see where the cover fits into the clock base. A little pressure in the right places and it will pop off easily.
Now – simply remove the second hand.
The second hand is creating most of the noise and the clock will work perfectly without it!
How easy was that?
Now – on to that boring color!
It’s so simple! Paint the back side of the clock and because the plastic is translucent, the color will show through and look flawless!
For my clock, I used an inexpensive acrylic paint. I brushed on two coats to the back side of the clock, letting the paint dry between applications. When the second coat was finished, my paint job did not look great. The problem was that light was shining through the clock showing all the imperfections. Once I hung the clock against the wall, where there was no light behind it, it looked perfect!
Because my family is spread across the world, I need multiple clocks for all the different time zones!
I hung my IKEA clock with two different clocks, but it would be really cute and inexpensive to do a wall of Rusch IKEA Wall Clocks in many different colors.
My daughter received one of these as a gift when she graduated from high school and she used it in her dorm and every apartment since for displaying photos.
The great thing about this photo gallery, besides being adorable, is that it is wonderful for anyone with limited space for framed photos! College students, apartment dwellers, and our dearest teenagers will love this clothesline gallery for hanging their favorite photos of their friends, pets and family, especially those special photos of mom!
In this post, I demonstrate two ways to make the photo clothesline gallery. One uses mini-clothespins and the other uses decorative brads and magnets!
What do you need?
D-ring Frame Hangers
Glow Stick Connectors
Decorative Brads and Mini-magnets
First things first – you need a good quality picture wire. This is a 30 pound coated wire. No – you will not have 30 pounds of pictures, but the wire is a nice thickness for hanging pictures on and it is very easy to bend and twist. We consulted with a professional picture framer on this one and she was right, it works perfectly!
The wire came in a 9 foot length, which was longer than we wanted so we used half of it!
Creating the hooks at the ends for hanging the clothesline, was very simple.
To one end of the wire, slide on a glow-stick connector. It’s the small plastic tube you see in the picture that would normally be used to connect two glow-sticks together. The connectors work perfectly for covering the twisted wire and finishing off the looped ends.
Bend the wire 1.5″ from it’s end and slide the hole of a D-ring frame hanger into the bend in the wire. Wrap the short end of the wire around to keep the D-ring in place. Slide the glow-stick connector over the twisted wire and that’s it! Do the same thing to the other side so you can hang the wire like a clothesline!
When gifting a Clothesline Photo Gallery, I always include a package of command hooks so the gift can be hung immediately!
If you choose to hang your photos with clothespins, it is easy to find them. At Michael’s we found them in all colors and designs. We selected the small white clothespins in order to personalize them!
Here are the clothespins my son decorated for a friend of his! The Sharpie worked fabulously for this project. It is easy to use and permanent!
If you decide you want your photo clothesline to have magnetic clasps to hang the pictures, find decorative brads. Again at Michael’s or any craft store you will find tons of brads to choose from. I selected my favorite from the larger brads since the brad needs to be substantial enough for a magnet to stick to and to hold a picture!
Open up the prongs of the brad and with a needle nose pliers, twist the ends around the wire. The prongs are easy to bend and the pliers allows you to pull the prongs tightly around the wire so the brad will stay in place.
Attach as many brads as you like. Not all of them need to have magnets attached to them. Attaching additional brads allows a few more options for hanging pictures!
After you have finished attaching the brads, you will need to make your magnetic clasp.
I purchased Neodymium Magnets at Michael’s again! The magnets are very strong and 0.25″ in diameter! They were perfect for this project!
Open up the prongs on the back of a brad, align the magnet in the center back and wrap the prongs around the magnet!
The magnetic clasp created is strong enough to hold photos between it’s self and the brads you have attached to your wire!
You are now ready to hang your photos!
This is a great gift to make for high school graduates heading off to college this fall!
Before my son’s graduation party, my daughter and I were sitting in our kitchen brainstorming ideas for displaying photos for his celebration. Since most parties tend to have the same types of displays, we wanted to do something unique! This is what we came up with!
The chalkboard photo frames were made using black paper. The paper was a heavy weight, duo-finish, 4 feet by 200 feet roll from Pacon Corporation in Appleton, Wisconsin. Using the rough side of the paper, I was able to easily write with a piece of chalk and erase using a microfiber towel. For the times that I really screwed up, I was able to lightly wet the towel to help remove all the chalk! Once the paper dried, I was ready to try again!
After measuring the pantry cupboards, my daughter cut strips of black paper to fit in the inner door panel. For the rest of the photos, we cut out various “frames”! The frames were very simple to make. We simply laid the picture on the paper, outlined the photo in chalk and with the help of a ruler and some creativity, we made some frames!
As you can see in the pictures, the chalk smudges exactly like it would on a real chalkboard!
I like that realistic look!
Using full sheets of paper, I made a sheet of “Family” photos and another one of “Good Friends”. I thinks it’s fun for your guests to see pictures of themselves with the graduate so I provided them with lots of pictures!
These full sheets of photos were also great for covering the junky side of the garage!!
I found the easiest way to attach the photos was to use painter’s tape. The tape will not harm your cabinets and is easily removed from your photos!
This is a fun and easy way to display photos for any get-together!
This Chicken Dip Recipe is made spicy by adding jalapeños and it is wonderful. My favorite way to eat the dip is on crostini, but it also makes a great sandwich spread.
So many options – dip at a party, sandwich spread for your family or something you whip up at the last minute to impress your friends!
If you want to turn down the temperature, this recipe can be prepared with the wonderful flavor of mild green chilis instead of the jalapeños!
The original recipe came from a friend of mine and it contained a lot more cream cheese than chicken so I changed it so it’s more about spicy chicken made creamy with less cream cheese!
Spicy Chicken Spread
1 lb of cooked chicken – shredded
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup chicken broth
1 – 4 oz can mild green chili’s – drained
1 – 4 oz can diced jalapenos – drained (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
I always use the entire can of green chilis and only a tablespoon or two of the jalapeños. The jalapenos have a wonderful flavor that I love, but adding the entire can makes it too spicy for me! For those in my family that can’t seem to get enough spice, I keep the left over diced jalapeños as a condiment!
Combine all the ingredients together, stir well and heat in a covered crock pot for at least an hour. Stir occasionally while cooking.
The result is a creamy delicious chicken spread that everyone will love!
When I am in a hurry, I microwave all the ingredients for a few minutes in a bowl and then pour them into the crock pot. This speeds things up, but don’t skip the crock pot all together. Allowing the chicken mixture to simmer in the crock pot adds something special to the recipe!
The truly brave can top the chicken dip with fresh jalapeños!
Show your graduate’s school colors with two-tone frosting!
This delightful multi-colored frosting would be wonderful for any occasion: weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, holidays…
What do you need?
One 16″ Decorating Bag
Two 12″ Decorating Bags
Coupler and Tips for the 16″ Bag
Frosting and Gel Food Colors
Stir up a bowl of frosting. Here I have made cream cheese frosting, but any kind will work! Divide the frosting into two bowls and color them using the gel food colors. If you want, you could divide the frosting three times – wouldn’t that be cool!
Color your frosting, cut the tip off the end of your 12″ bags and fill them with frosting!
After placing the coupler base into the 16″ decorating bag, tuck the two 12″ filled decorating bags into the 16″ decorating bag. Make sure both bag tips are positioned into the very bottom of the bag. Place a decorating tip on the coupler and secure with the coupler ring.
Time to start frosting!
Pipe the frosting onto your cupcakes. Here I have used the 2D decorating tip!
These are so fun and delicious! Perfect for any occasion!
What do you need?
Balloons (I used 7″ & 9″ balloons)
Weights to hold the balloons in place
Tablecloth Clamps for securing the runner
Time to start inflating those balloons!
For the above runner, I inflated 7″ balloons until they were 3-6″ in diameter. I liked the look the varied sizes provided! After inflating the balloons, I tied them around a length of fishing line. Fishing line is great because it is difficult to see and the balloons will easily slide along the line!
Here I used a 9″ balloon and tried to maintain the same size of 5″ or so. Under inflating the balloons resulted in a teardrop shape that I loved!
So many options to choose from! Colors, sizes, shapes…
One thing I would remember is to keep the balloons small enough so they won’t take up the entire table and so that your guests can see each other across the table!
How to keep your adorable table runner in place on a windy day?
Secure the ends of the table runner by tying the fishing line around a Tablecloth Clamp. These can be found in the camping aisle!
To secure the middle of your beautiful runner in place, weight it with heavy clips. I found these at the office supply store. They are metal magnet clips that are wonderfully heavy. These were perfect for holding the runner in place. They are small enough to be easily hidden and heavy enough to do the job.
Another balloon suggestion is the Balloon Centerpiece!
To make this centerpiece, I attached balloons to a wreath frame with rubber bands!
Loop the rubber band around the metal frame and tie a small loop at the opposite end of the rubber band. Slip the knot of your inflated balloon into the loop and continue this process until you are satisfied that you have enough balloons! To create extra height in the center, use longer rubber bands or double loop two together.
The rubber bands are great because you can easily stretch and twist the balloons around each other to get the look you want!
Final Balloon Decorating Idea!
Hang Columns of Balloons from the trees.
Make a column of balloons using the same directions as you did for the table runner. In this picture I tied the balloons around a narrow ribbon instead of the fishing line. Ribbon is simple to tie to a tree branch and the balloons will not slide as easily. Choose what works best for you!
So much fun for so little money!
Now go out and have some fun decorating tables for your next celebration!
It is the time for parties – Graduations, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Weddings… If you need an inexpensive and simple decoration for your tables, I have you covered!
Now go get your decorative paper because I have not one, not two, but three ideas for you!
Wrapping Paper Table Runner
First up – Paper Stars
The sky is the limit with this one!
Just toss the stars in the center of your table for a festive center piece or run them all along the table for a table runner. So easy and so fun!
What do you need?
Craft Paper & Scissors
The stars shown here were crafted from card stock because I wanted a star that was a little heftier and hopefully wouldn’t blow away. Card stock is more difficult to fold than paper, but it suited my needs perfectly!
For a tutorial on how to cut a star using a single cut, refer to this youtube video: Simple 3D Paper Stars
As you will see in the video, cutting stars is very easy to do. I did have to watch the video a couple of times, but after that – I had it!
To create the look I wanted, I used various colors and sizes.
This would be a great decoration for Memorial Day or the 4th of July with stars made from red, white & blue paper!
Next up –Extra-large Confetti
This is one of my favorite table decorations! Last year, I suggested using this for a cross-country banquet with great success. I gathered a group of volunteers at my home, served them wine and snacks and we punched and punched and punched….
All that punching resulted in easily decorated tables that looked adorable and lots of fun for me chatting, punching and drinking wine with the ladies!
What do you need?
(I used 1″, 2″ & 3″ punches!)
After gathering your confetti, arrange them on your table.
You can choose to separate the circles like below.
Or toss the confetti on the tables and let them fall where they may!
Either way creates an adorable table decoration!
Last paper table decoration for today!
Paper Table Runners!
To make these fabulous table runners, I used wrapping paper!
Traditionally, table runners are 12-16 inches in width and most wrapping paper comes in widths of 24″- 30″. If you want a wide table runner, go ahead and use it as is. If not, be sure to buy the paper with a grid pattern on the back so you can easily and neatly cut it the correct width.
Another option that makes life easy is to purchase short rolls of wrapping paper. Michael’s sells 7 yds of 17″ wide wrapping paper for $1.50. The selection of the wrapping paper is limited, but give it a try. For very little money you can create great looking tables!
Another product at Michael’s that I am really excited about is their line of craft paper. It comes in rolls of 20′ that are 14″ wide – Perfect!
The paper is a wonderful weight and comes in so many fabulous colors!
Here are just a few!
Now there is no reason why you shouldn’t have beautifully decorated tables for your next celebration. Whether it is for a graduation, birthday, anniversary or just a simple family gathering, every party will be festive and fun with a simple paper table decoration!
I am so excited by my latest discovery – How to make Almond Butter!
Our house is a peanut free zone therefore, NO Peanut Butter! I love peanut butter so to compensate for its loss I have tried every type of nut butter I can find. My favorite is almond butter, but even that can be disappointing!
I don’t know how many times I have opened a new jar of almond butter only to find it was beginning to go rancid. The use by date says it should be good, but the flavor says something else.
So good bye commercially prepared almond butter! These days I am making my own!
To prepare the almond butter, I use my newest love – the NUTRiBULLET! I love how easy it is to use and clean.
Oh yeah – it makes great smoothies too, but that is for another post!
The almonds I purchase are from Blue Diamond! They are peanut-free and so far these are the only peanut free nuts I have found! Thank you Blue Diamond!
Almond Butter Recipe
1/2 cup almonds (I use Blue Diamonds Whole Natural Almonds – they are raw!)
3/4 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp honey
Dash of salt
Let’s get started!
Grease a frying pan with a small amount of coconut oil and warm over medium heat. Toss in the almonds and stir gently until the almonds become fragrant and begin to toast!
Remove the almonds from the pan and cool until just warm.
If your almonds cool completely, warm them in the pan again. Warm almonds is the key to making almond butter quickly. You do not want to burn out your blending device so make sure the almonds are warm. Also, be sure that the blending appliance you use is powerful enough to grind almonds!
I toss my warm almonds into my NUTRiBULLET! After blending for 10-20 seconds, I shake the bullet so all the almond pieces drop down to the blade area and blend again for 15-20 seconds. After 5-6 blending cycles, I end up with almond butter.
As you can see in the above photo, the paste appears a bit dry. The butter can be used as is, but to improve the flavor and add smoothness, add the coconut oil, honey and a little salt!
Blend again and it will result in a smooth and delicious almond butter! Store the almond butter in the refrigerator!
Notice that I only prepare 1/2 cup of almond butter at a time. Why? Because I am a pig and there is always the fear that I will eat all of it in one sitting! – Don’t laugh – it has happened! For me, it is best to keep it at 1/2 cup!
The other reason to prepare small amounts – Nuts will go rancid faster after heating and grinding. Small amounts alleviate the fear of this delicious butter going rancid before you have time to gobble it up!