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Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 1 :: Dessert Buffet

*** I know this post is a couple days late, but I had to take a break from blogging for Christmas! :) ***

Most of the projects during our 12 Days of DIY Projects went into creating our dessert buffet! I have to say, everything turned out great! Now I'm going to enjoy the rest of the holiday and enjoy the beautiful decorations! I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season! And for my last DIY project, I'll leave you with a sweet recipe for your own dessert buffets!

Apple Tea Cakes

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 3oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 cup all purpose flour
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or margarine (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 large Gala apple, peeled and diced

For crust, in a small mixing bowl beat the 1/2 cup margarine or butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed about 30 seconds, or until softened. Stir in the flour. Cover and chill for about 1 hour or till dough is easy to handle.

Form the chilled dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions,roll each portion into a ball. Place each ball into an un-greased muffin cup. Press the dough evenly against the bottom and up the sides of the cup. Cover and set aside.

For filling, in a small mixing bowl stir together the beaten egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, melted margarine or butter, vanilla, lemon juice and diced apples. Fill each dough lined muffin cup with the apple mixture.

Bake at 375 for 20-24 minutes or till filing is set and crust is lightly browned. Cool slightly in pans before serving.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 2 :: 3-D Hanging Snowflakes

I found this project for 3-D Snowflakes online and thought it was incredible! You can use the pre-cut snowflake shapes (die cuts) found at your local craft store, or you can gather the family around with a stack of paper and let everyone cut their own snowflakes! (I remember doing that as a kid!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 3 :: Place Cards & Signs

Place cards on your holiday table add that special personal touch. Just print them out then write in your guests names. You can take it one step further and create other matching cards and signs for your table. Here are a few that we used for our dessert buffet:

I created my own set using holiday graphics and a photo editing program. However, if you're not "graphic design savvy" you can use any one of these great sites for templates:

Snowman "Let It Snow"
3-D Place Card
Yellow Wildflowers
Various Microsoft Office Templates

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 4 :: Salt Dough Ornaments

These ornaments can be made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

4 Cups of Flour
1 Cup of Salt
1 1/2 Cups of Hot Water

Knead the dough and roll it out to cut out shapes with cookie cutters (just like if you were making sugar cookies). Place them on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Let them cool, then paint and decorate!

For decoration, you can use paint, glitter, rhinestones, candy pieces, or anything else that strikes your fancy. I rolled up tiny balls of dough and used them as buttons, bows and rosy cheeks for my gingerbread people.

You can also treat the dough like clay and mold it with your hands, like this heart/Santa hat ornament. Just roll it and shape it with your hands to create any shape you'd like. Get creative and have fun! I know I did!

Last chance for Christmas Cupcakes!

I am officially all baked out for his holiday season. I've baked more cookies, breads, tarts, pies and cakes than I ever have before, and I'd be happy to not bake/eat another one until next year. However....I still like looking at pictures of these adorable holiday cupcakes...and they still look yummy!

Cupcakes Take The Cake

Cupcakes Take The Cake

Pepper Design Blog

Cupcakes Take The Cake

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 5 :: Napkin Folds

Napkin folding isn't necessarily a "DIY Project" but it can definitely add color and decor to your table setting, whether for a holiday or another occasion. Also, you can use these napkin folding techniques on both paper and linen napkins. We chose the Standing Fan napkin fold for our table setting this year.

Here is a great website with instructions and photos to help you learn the art of napkin folding!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Celebrity Weddings

Obviously, I love weddings; but I especially love celeb weddings. Their over the top flare is always eye-catching and inspiring. Here are a few photos from this year's celeb weddings!

Danica McKeller & Mike Verta
March 22

Winnie from The Wonder Years weds a composer.

Kendra Wilkinson & Hank Baskett
June 27th

Playboy model and Indianapolis Colts football player.

Milla Jovovich & Paul W.S. Anderson
August 22
Actress weds director in Beverly Hills.

Justin Guarini & Reina Capodici
September 26
American Idol star weds his biggest fan in Pennsylvania.

Khloe Kardashian & Lamar Odom
Reality TV star weds Los Angeles Lakers star.

Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner
October 24th
The Donald's daughter weds New York Observer publisher in New Jersey.

Nathan Followill & Jessie Baylin
Kings of Leon member weds singer in Tennessee.

Other celeb weddings in 2009:

January 10 - Fergie & Josh Duhamel in Malibu.
February 14 - Salma Hyek & François-Henri Pinault in Paris.
February 26th - Gisele Bündchen & Tom Brady in Santa Monica.
March 10th - Mandy Moore & Ryan Adams in Georgia.
March 19th - David Letterman & Regina Lasko in Choteau, Mont.
March 21st - Bruce Willis & Emma Heming in Turks & Caicos.
March 21st - Natasha Betingfield & Matthew Robinson in Malibu.
May 2nd - Maggie Gyllenhaal & Peter Sarsgaard in Italy.
June - Eddie Van Halen & Janie Liszewski
July 11 - Channing Tatum & Jenna Dewan in Malibu.
August 1 - Mark Walhberg & Rhea Durham in Beverly Hills.
September - Claire Danes & Hugh Dancy in France.

Day 6 :: Holiday Topiary

This Holiday topiary was super simple! I started with a clear vase, a small square of styrofoam and a 2 ft. piece of dowel rod. Place the styrofoam in the bottom of the vase and push the dowel rod securely down into the styrofoam. Since the green styrofoam showed through the clear vase, I filled the vase with clear filler rocks to hide it.

Once your vase is full of rocks and your dowel rod is secure, put another block of styrofoam on the top of the rod. (This one can be any shape or size because it won't show.) I used some left over cones I had from another project.

Using silk flowers (I trimmed the stems to about 5 inches), begin arranging the flowers into a round ball shape. The point in leaving the stems longer is so that you can push the flowers into the styrofoam at different levels, making it much easier to create the round topiary look.

After my round ball was formed, I took some candy cane striped wired ribbon (wired is MUCH easier to work with) and created some loops. I just pinned each loop into the styrofoam. This just adds some different colors and textures to the topiary.

Finally, I covered the dowel rod with red wired ribbon. Tie a knot right at the base of the topiary, then slide the knot up underneath the flowers to conceal it. Then just wrap the ribbon all the way down to the bottom of the rod. You can secure it at the bottom with hot glue, or just use scissors to tuck the ribbon down into the rocks.

I added a red bow for a finishing touch, and that's it! The directions might be wordy, but the entire thing took me about 20 minutes. Easy peasy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 7 :: Paper Luminaries

Print, cut, tape/glue. That's it!! Just print your pattern, cut it out, roll it into a circle and seal it on the inside with tape or glue. Place it over a votive or tealight candle inside and there you have it...a beautiful and inexpensive luminary!

I put these on the shelves in my office. I'm going to make a few more in different patterns for my other shelving areas, because they look amazing! Then, I'm going to make some for the fireplace mantle!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 8 :: Homemade Hot Chocolate Gifts

This year I'm giving out a few goodie baskets to friends and family, including some homemade cookies, bars and breads along with my Russian Friendship Tea that I posted about on Day 12. I wanted to add another easy warm beverage, so I made cinnamon hot chocolate mix and creatively packaged it for the baskets!


* 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the mix to a mug of hot water and stir! You can also add 2-3 tablespoons of mix to a mug of coffee for Cinnamon Mocha!

I measured 9 tablespoons of mix into the jar (to give about 3-4 servings). I filled the remainder of the jar with a plastic sandwich baggie of marshmallows and closed the lid. Then I decorated the jar with an individual tablespoon for measuring, a mini whisk for stirring, a candy cane and a cinnamon stick to add more flavor, and a gift tag with mixing instructions.

Day 9 :: Candy Cane Centerpiece

This has been my easiest DIY project so far on my 12 day journey! I wanted a centerpiece for my Christmas Eve dessert table, so I used my leftover candy canes and a clear vase to create a nice base for my flower arrangement. I just hung the candy canes around the top of the vase to cover the glass. How easy is that!?

Then to finish it off, I took some red silk roses that I have and cut some evergreens from my backyard to make a small round floral arrangement. I used a strofoam base to stick my flowers & evergreens into, and then I just set the arrangement on top of the vase.

Strofoam can be bought at your local craft store for just a few dollars. Or, you can always just arrange them in the vase without the styrofoam (after all, you won't see the stems because of the candy canes).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 10 :: Peppermint Candy Cone

This was another fun, easy and pretty project! You can make these candy cones out of just about ANY kind of candy you want. I used cinnamon peppermints to coordinate with my other dessert buffet decor.

I used white store bought frosting to attach my peppermints to the cone. Starting at the bottom, I worked my way around the circle and continued upwards. The styrofoam cone you can buy at your local craft store for a couple dollars, and the cone is displayed on a white pillar candle holder I bought at Marshall's for $6. Pillar candle holders seem to be the perfect size for these cones! And here's a photo of the finished product!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Venue Spotlight :: Milan Villa

Milan Villa is a jewel hidden in Monroeville, OH (near Sandusky). Opened as a bed & breakfast, their charming property is becoming more and more sought after for wedding ceremonies and receptions. With inside room for dining for 40, and outside room for a large tented reception, they offer choices for any sized guest list.

The Milan Villa sits amidst twenty-seven rolling acres of woods, stream and waterfall in the Firelands region of Ohio. Peacefully secluded, we share our property with numerous species of wildlife, including fox, deer, hawks, coyotes, eagles, heron, and a wide range of songbirds.

You will enjoy hiking along our nature paths, through the vineyard, by the one-acre pond and beach, and beside our extensive, ever-expanding perennial gardens. Enjoy morning coffee or afternoon tea at any number of secluded spots: by the waterfall, along the river, near the dam, on the beach or under the shade of a majestic weeping willow tree.

I've done a few events at Milan Villa, and it is an amazing place for any type of get-together. Kelly Jo Kucirek, the property manager, is always fabulous to work with and makes you feel right at home there. Contact them to schedule a tour of the Villa and see for yourself! (440) 320-2000

Milan Villa's Website

You can also see more photos from events at Milan Villa at these websites:
Studio 60 Portraits
Amy Nixon Events

Milan Villa
3099 State Route 113 W.
Norwalk, Ohio 44857
Kelly Jo Kucirek
(440) 320-2000

Day 11 :: DIY Holiday Banner

For Christmas Eve this year, we're having a candy buffet set up in the kitchen for the kids (and the adults) to enjoy.

Since I'm a big fan of Amy Atlas and I check her blog regularly, I stumbled upon this cute banner in one of her photos and was inspired to DIY one for my own holiday gathering!

Her photo that inspired my banner:

My Banner:

Making the banner was really simple. I literally used Microsoft Word on my laptop to create and print my letters, one large letter per page. Then I just took regular scissors and cut out the letters in triangles. To finish, I hot glued each triangle in order on a long thin white ribbon.

After that comes the fun part...embellishing! I wanted to glitz my banner up a bit for the holidays. I hot glued gold berries to the bottom of each triangle and hot glued a strip of red ribbon to the top of each triangle. Then I outlined each letter in gold glitter paint to add a little sparkle. Once everything dried, I cut it into 2 separate banners ("Happy" and "Holidays") and hung them at different levels on the wall. The best part was...I already had all the materials to make this right here at home...I didn't have to go shopping for supplies!
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