Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gift Baskets for Purim

I am not a scrapbook-er, but I find the beautiful papers they sell at my local scrapbook store hard to resist. So, I'm always trying to come up with ideas how to use them in other ways.

This year I decided to incorporate them into my Shalach Manot gift baskets. I started out with white paper ice buckets I bought at the party store. They're inexpensive and quite strong so they make great containers for gifts of food. And, the clean white surface is an empty palette just begging for decoration.
Here are the supplies I used to make these baskets. I used two sheets per bucket, adhering them to the surface with spray mount and double-sided tape.
I picked different but coordinating papers from the scrapbook store, white ice buckets from iparty and round tags I found at Staples--they're part of the new line of Martha Stewart Home Office supplies.

For the gift tags, I tried to copy the feel of typography on a Hallmark ad I tore out of a magazine.
I drew a rough design on white paper and transferred that onto the tags with old fashioned carbon paper. Next I used a brown sharpie marker to write the final message.
All the food in my baskets this year are packaged items, so I was able to assemble these a week before Purim. That's a good thing since next week is so busy--our son Ben is home for spring break, lots of Purim parties and helping my daughter with her own Purim festivities. 
I also made two mini baskets for Moussia and Yosef thanks to the dollar store!
They'll be so excited to get their very own baskets.
Linked to the Shabby Nest 
creative jewish mom

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Purim Gift Baskets

Purim is a week from Thursday. My favorite part of this holiday is giving food gift baskets (called Shalach Manot in Hebrew) to friends and family. Here are the rules: Include at least two items of ready-to-eat  food or drink in your food basket and send at least two food gifts.

These ideas first appeared in my book, Jewish Holiday Style.  My baskets for this Purim aren't quite finished yet, so I am sharing these with you today and will show you my new baskets later this week.
Have a friend that loves to garden? Here's the perfect basket. Use any kind of flower pot, add some gardening tools, and a few packs of seeds. Even the gift tag looks like a plant marker (it's just a printed card stock square taped to a Bamboo skewer).

This basket is fun for a young family with kids--"Things that Go Pop". Everything in the basket goes pop starting with the popcorn, lollipops, paper popper, bubbles, bubblegum, pop tarts, champagne, and even the gift tag is a mini balloon! The container is a paper ice bucket from the party store, covered with white office supply dot stickers that I colored with markers. I'll be using the same paper ice buckets for my baskets this year, so stay tuned to see what I did with them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          ALL PHOTOS BY SHAFFER/SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
Have friends who love Chinese take-out? Others who are into organic dining? These are the  baskets for them. Ask your local Chinese restaurant if they will sell you empty, clean white take out containers. Fill with condiments for stir fry, fortune cookies and chop-sticks. Stuff your organic baskets with all things organic including organic fruit--even the straw filling the basket is biodegradable!

Linked to i should be mopping the floor

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Purim Costumes

The Jewish holiday of Purim is two weeks away. Now is the time to start planning costumes, not spending the night before panicking with yards of tulle!
What little girl doesn't want to be the heroin of the Purim story, Queen Esther? It's a great excuse to get all dolled up in clothing most little girls would love to wear everyday if they could get away with it! I planned on making a gown for Moussia but when I saw this dress at Target for $20, I snatched it up knowing I'd never be able to sew anything half as cute. I added sparkly fabric for the cape, silver fabric for the belt, some stick-on gems, she already had the Crown--done!
Yosef's costume is the "superhero" Mitzvah Boy. His was also easy--I bought a solid cotton navy blue T-shirt on sale at Target.  I also bought leggings (shh, don't tell him they were from the girl's department)! and embellished it with some felt and silver fabric for the cuffs and lighting logo. A white elastic belt and green cape completes the look.

We had fun at the "photo shoot"...
And, of course the out-takes are always the most fun!
Linked to The Shabby Nest
Creative Jewish Mom

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Charity Boxes

The Jewish holiday of Purim is less than three weeks away. Although charity boxes, or tzedakah boxes (in hebrew) are a part of everyday life in a Jewish home, this holiday is a wonderful time to get into the giving habit--because during Purim we are required to give gifts of money to at least two needy people or worthy causes. 

I wanted my tzedakah boxes to reflect my taste and look great in my home, so here are a few ideas I tried--I'm very happy with the results.

I started out with plain unfinished wood banks that I ordered online from Oriental Trading Co. here.
I used Mod Podge glue to decoupage paper onto the boxes. (You can see my decoupaged table from this previous post).

First I made colored copies of coins and a map of Israel.

After cutting out small squares of the colored copies, I pasted them onto each side of the box with the Mod Podge glue as shown below.
After all the sides were glued, I brushed more glue over the tops of the paper to seal it.
Don't worry that the glue looks white, it will dry clear.
The tzedakah definition was printed out from my computer and given a tea stain with a wet tea bag for an antique, modeled look.

Although these are simple and elegant, I'll soon be making some fun, whimsical, tzedakah boxes just for kids!

Linked to creative jewish mom

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Words as Art

Although I finished decorating my granddaughter's room a year ago, the large blank wall next to her bed was crying out for some artwork. Even Moussia noticed it was bare and asked me for "pictures" (and she was only three years old)! To see the rest of her room click here.

Below is how the wall looked before.
Instead of artwork, I thought it might be interesting to incorporate typography. I asked my daughter and her husband for words that I could use to string together on ribbon and hang on the wall. They chose the Shema prayer. (After all, Moussia's dad is a rabbi!) In Judaism, this is probably the most important prayer we say, and Moussia says it every night before going to sleep.

I ordered several packs of chipboard alphabet letters online from Lobby Hobby and spray painted them with a white primer. (You can skip this step if you don't want to spray paint).
 I chose Martha Stewart's new line of craft paints in a pearl finish for a bit of sheen, in white.
After the letters were painted, each one was stapled onto a white ribbon.
Thumbtacks were used to attach the ends of the ribbons into the drywall.
This is an easy, inexpensive way to add interest to a wall. You could also do a child's name, inspirational words or a quote. It's up to you!
Linked to addicted2decorating

Monday, February 13, 2012

Yosef's Second Birthday

Our grandson Yosef turned two! Like most two-year-old boys, he loves trucks and cars (which he calls beep-beeps). So when it came time to pick a theme for his party, it wasn't a question.
I used little yellow toy trucks as a jumping off point and added blue for a second party color. We kept things simple since the party was small and the children were very young. See the yellow cups? They're Starbucks cold drink cups, painted yellow. The lids fit nice and snug so I knew there would not be any spilled milk with these. (The nice people at Starbucks know me since I'm there so often and gave me the cups and tops for free!)
 I made the cupcake toppers using stickers, a circle punch and some other supplies...
Hanging the balloons from the ceiling with string is easier than getting a bunch of helium balloons into your car. Here's a little trick to get them to hang nicely...
Put a marble inside the balloon before blowing it up. The weight of the marble will keep it hanging straight.
The chocolate covered marshmallows couldn't be easier to make: put a stick into the marshmallow, dip it into melted chocolate, add sprinkles, done!

 All guests went home with goody boxes filled with hard-to-find kosher candy.
His favorite gift was a tool table from Savta and Sabba. Of course, big sister Moussia had to make sure he was doing everything correctly!

Linked to Today's Creative Blog
The Shabby Nest

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Decoupaged Table

We've all seen antiques that have been either painted or stained. It's a great way to breathe new life in to an outdated piece and make it relevant to your home. But when it comes to re-finishing, it usually ends there.

I  know what you're thinking. "What else could I possibly do to update that dresser/nightstand/table other than slapping a coat of paint on it?"

(Drumroll, please...) Decoupage! The French name makes it sound fancier than it is. Take any kind of thin paper and glue it to a clean flat surface. When dry, simply brush more glue on top to protect it. Taa daa!  Decoupage may seem like a new trend, but the technique actually dates back to twelfth century China. It was not until it became enormously popular in France (= fancy name) and Italy during the seventeenth century that it became known as decoupage.
For my table, I used tissue paper from the gift wrapping department. It's super thin and tears easily when wet, so handle it carefully if you decide to go with this option. Wrapping paper would also work well, or maybe decorative paper from the scrap book department of your craft store. Just make sure it's on the thin side, not heavy card stock.

Here is how the table looked before.

The first step was painting the table white since some of the background color comes through the tissue. I gave the legs a dry brush finish to look distressed. 

The only supplies you need to decoupage are Mod Podge, tissue paper, a brush and razor blade or exacto knife to cut the tissue.

It's probably a good idea to give it several coats since it will act as a sealer. Just be sure to wait for each coat to dry in between coats.
I topped mine with a piece of glass cut to size by my local glass shop. This added even more protection and has held up well.

Of course the sky's the limit...wood boxes, lamps, even trash cans can look awesome decoupaged. If you decide to try this at home, I'd love to see your results!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Indoor Potted Trees

The Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat celebrates the new year for trees (yes, trees get their own new year in Judaism) and falls out this year on Wednesday, February 8th. What better way to honor the holiday then to do a post all about beautiful trees?

I love having potted trees indoors. It's your easiest 'big statement' for bringing the outdoors in, especially in urban areas where you may be tree-less. It is also fantastic for the health of your home. Plants clean the air of the many toxins that our world, er, off-gases... and they look great while doing it!
MARTHA STEWART                                                                               LITTLE GREEN NOTEBOOK

Lemon and orange trees may take a while until they bear fruit, but once they do you can enjoy the wonderful citrus smell throughout your home.

EMILY HENDERSON                                                                              PINTEREST
Fig trees are the first choice in trees for many designers. Not only are they super easy to grow, the large leaves make a statement in any room.

HOUSE BEAUTIFUL                                                                         HOUSE BEAUTIFUL

A Kumquat tree in a topiary shape is perfect in a traditional setting.

HGTV                                                                        HOUSE BEAUTIFUL
Palm trees are native to tropical climates, so they are easy to grow indoors in a sunny spot.
What kind of trees do you have in your home?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Flowers: Tulips in a Birch Vase

It's the first week of February, so welcome to the second Flowers on the First series!

Tulips are my absolute favorite flower and this month they are easy to find in the floral department of most supermarkets. I love all colors of tulips, but especially the peach and pink tones.

A few weeks ago, I took a walk in my neighborhood and saw this lying in the snow.
It was bark from a birch branch that had fallen off the tree. I carried it home and gave it a "bath" in the tub to remove all the dirt. At first I thought about making a birch covered candle, but I decided it would look great as a vase. I love the contrast of the rough bark against the pristine tulips.

I already had a glass vase that fit the diameter--all I had to do was cut the top of the bark with scissors to fit the height of the vase, and wrap some white string around the whole thing to keep it in place.

You can also buy birch bark online, which might be easier if you live somewhere like Miami or Manhattan! Here is one of many sources to purchase birch bark: County Craft Supplies.  You can also buy these rustic vases ready to go on etsy--like here: New Hampshire Wood Creations.

It's still another few months until spring comes to Connecticut but until then, the tulips give me a sneak preview of what's to come!

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Joyful Stamper
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