You know what the perfect Valentine’s Day gift is for me? Other than flowers (which I do actually love)? CANDY! I love candy. I love sweets in general, but if you buy me chocolate, especially chocolate with caramel, I’ll love you forever.
Speaking of candy, two weeks ago I was gifted with an amazing treat box from Treatsie! If you’ve never heard of Treatsie, and you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re going to want to pay attention.
Treatsie helps you find amazing, high-end artisan sweets you’d normally never find unless you stumbled across the shop. Try our monthly subscription sample box of multiple and ever-changing vendors or order boxes from our store to get sweets right away!
The sweets you get in a Treatsie box aren’t the kind you’ll find at big box stores. We only work with small, independent vendors. By subscribing to Treatsie, you are directly supporting small businesses around the country as every Treatsie box and store sale benefits those vendors.
And they certainly aren’t! This January box included hot chocolate pops from PopBar, lavender sea salt caramels from Lillie Belle Farms, peanut brittle from Brittle Brothers, AvenueSweets espresso caramels… this isn’t your average drug store candy. And I LOVE drugstore candy, but trust me. This is better.
Yes- this post is ALL about those tree trunk/tree branch candle holders you’ve seen at places like Terrain or on Pinterest or Etsy. It’s really easy to make them yourself, at home, if you have some basic tools.
This idea all started when I asked Jay to make me & my mother some old fashioned Pagan-styleYule logs for Christmas.
The Yule Log started out, we believe, as part of Norse Winter Solstice celebrations. Back then, the longhouse would have a huge fireplace, and the flooring would be either stone or packed earth. Tradition says that the Yule Log began as a huge log, big enough to burn for the entire twelve-day festival. One end would be pushed into the fireplace, and as it burned away, you’d push it in some more until it was entirely consumed.
With fireplaces being less and less common these days, the practical Pagan has adapted. Some choose a small log, some twelve or sixteen inches in length, flatten it along one side to make a base, and drill from one to three holes into the top, suitable for the insertion of candles. The candles are generally (but not always) “fire” colors, with red being the most common. The log is decorated with greenery, sometimes real, sometimes artificial – pine, spruce, fir or other evergreen boughs, holly and mistletoe are a few possibilities – and the candles are lighted at sunset on the Winter Solstice. Tradition says they should burn through the night; but given safety considerations, most only allow it to burn so long as someone is around to keep an eye on it.
Pagan-style refers to how it’s a log with holes for candles, instead of a large log you burn in a fireplace. It’s also a more modern version. My dad made one when he was a kid out of a log with three holes on top. It isn’t just Pagan’s that use that style- lots of Christians have Yule logs in that way- but if I’m not mistaken, they started it.
So I had some wood in the garage that had been cut from branches that were hanging too low on trees in the backyard over the summer. I was saving it for our fire pit, but then the summer ended and the weather got too cold & they were shoved into the garage & forgotten. Then my mother mentioned she wanted a Yule log, and I realized I had the perfect pieces of wood for it. And then I decided I wanted one, but with tea lights instead of taper candles. I realized they’d look great with my winter tree!
“…is Hawaii’s way, to say Merry Christmas to you…”
In case you didn’t know, “Mele Kalikimaka” is one of my favorite Christmas songs sung by one of my favorite singers: Bing Crosby. It’s also featured in one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I have my grandpa’s original record of Bing’s Merry Christmas! album which it was on, and I also have my late Uncle Pat‘s White Christmas 40th Anniversary VHS box set (from 1994) which includes the script and other reprints of film memorabilia.
I’m clearly into it.
Well, anyway, it’s here. Finally! Christmas is here. After months of preparation & anticipation. And I hope it lives up to all of that for you. For me, it’s a vintage Christmas. Vintage ornaments on the tree (and some new ones), vintage-looking colored lights.
Some of the vintage ornaments are my grandparents’, some are my great-grandparents’, and some other belonged to my parents. Like these Shiny Brite ones that were my grandpa & grandma’s…
And a few awesome hand-painted striped glass ones like this…
And still others are new! Or fairly new. Like this acoustic guitar I bought Jay in 2005 at Restoration Hardware, or the Jack Daniels crystal one Jay’s parents got him from Lenox.
There’s also this one, that Jay bought at the 9/11 museum.
And you know I have baking/cooking-related ones on there too. I’ve got a few “baking fairies” with spatulas/pastry bags/etc, a wooden spoon & whisk, a cookie cutter & Santa cookie from Yoyo, a bunch of different glass cupcakes and a personalized chef. This is a very delicate glass cupcake imported from Poland that I got at Sur La Table:
Each & every ornament has such a special meaning. Isn’t it lovely to look at your tree & have each ornament spark a memory?
And of course no tree would be complete without toys underneath it. My tree has some special vintage toys…
These toy trucks & trains are vintage. The Buddy L trucks & Ives trains belonged to my grandfather, and date back to the 1920′s/early 1930′s. The white car in the front belonged to my uncle so it’s probably from the 1940′s/early 1950′s.
And this Christmas is full of new traditions, too. Like this:
That right there is the bottom of our tree! The nice dude at the place we bought it cut the bottom inch off before he wrapped the tree and gave it to me, but you can do it yourself; either before you put it in the stand when you get it home, or after you take it down. Just slice the bottom off (if you’re doing it after Christmas, use a dry piece, not one that was sitting in water). Sand it a little on both sides, clean it, then write the date on it. I used a wood-burning tool, but I know not everyone has one of those. A Sharpie or rubber stamp works too. I’d also seal it with some kind of acrylic sealer spray (or polyurethane sealer, only if you’ve burned the date in) so the sap doesn’t become annoying.
And now I’ll have a collection of them from every year we have a real tree- which is hopefully many years. You can hang yours on the tree with a little screw in hook & some ribbon, or use it as a coaster, or just put it on a shelf like I did.
By now you should all know the deal with the Friday Fifteen. If not, then here it is in a nutshell: every few weeks (or whenever the mood strikes) I make a list of fifteen things that I’m currently into/are seasonal/I find interesting/etc. I do it on Fridays, hence the name: Friday Fifteen.
This is the first one of December & the last one before Christmas, so it’s the holiday edition!
If you’ve got some bad-asses on your Christmas list this year, then you should make them some “Lump of Coal” cookies! They’re a super dark chocolatey cookie that you crumple up to mimic coal. Much better to get THAT in your stocking, right?
If you can this season, open your heart & your home to a shelter pet. I’ve rescued more pets in my life so far than I can count, and each & every one was worth it. Every town has at least one local shelter, but if you don’t know of any there’s always Petfinder.com.
7-layer magic bars are one of my favorite Christmas treats. They’re also really easy to make & since they’re so rich, a little goes a long way! I think they might deserve a re-do on the blog this year.
Oh, December. How I love you. Make no mistake- Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. Hands down. However, it’s only acceptable for me to play White Christmas over & over again in December. I don’t mind watching it in February or July, but I find other people take issue. Or perhaps they just take issue with me singing all of the songs (particularly this one & this one) out loud at the top of my lungs? Anyway. I wait until at least after turkey day to break out the Bing! Also, December is the Mount Everest of baking/creating: the best crafts, recipes, and decorations are happening right around now!
This tutorial is something you’ve probably seen all over the internet.
No, not probably. Definitely. I’ve seen this concept more times in the past two weeks than I’ve seen my fiancee, it seems. I’m just repeating it here to show you how stupidly easy it is. And how fun it is. And chances are, you’ve already got the materials- or most of them- laying around the house. It’s a knockoff of a product that Anthropologie made (they made salt shaker ones too), hence the lack of water.
And I had to ask if I could give one of YOU a copy as well!
I love cookbooks. I love books in general, really- especially cookbooks, how-to books or DIY/craft books. I’m in the middle of redoing things around the ol’ homestead, so I don’t have easy access to them right now. Which is another reason why I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a new one.
But the main reason? It’s December!It’s time to start thinking about Christmas baking & Christmas presents. Cookbooks like this make not only amazing gifts, but provide some inspiration when we get a little stuck for holiday treats.
“Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts:Here’s a guide to baking and decorating delicious desserts with a colorful twist: sprinkles! Of course you can scatter them over cakes and pies–but you can also swirl them into waffles, “embroider” them on cookies, and freeze them in pretty popsicles. Jackie Alpers shares dozens of creative, colorful, super-fun recipes, plus quick-and-easy projects (ideal for little kids), holiday treats, party-perfect sprinkles crafts (great for gifting!). She also offers simple tutorials for tinting sparkling sugars, concocting homemade pop rocks, and even crafting your own sprinkles from scratch. Sprinkles! is an awesome rainbow explosion of a cookbook you won’t want to miss.”
The first thing that you need to know is that the photography in the book (& on the front & back covers) is beautiful. Beautiful colors & beautiful layouts. It’s enough to make a food blogger a little jealous.
DIY’d jars are all over the place. Well, jars are all over the place in & of themselves, however lately it seems people are gluing all kinds of crazy shit on top of jar lids & then painting them… with adorable results. I personally glued some knobs on jars last year & made some super cute candy jars. But some other things I’ve seen: little dinosaurs, bunnies, cats, etc. All of these little knick-knacks just glued onto the lids, then painted, then the lids are screwed back on to make a completely different looking candy jar/thread holder/toy container/etc.
So why not capitalize on it for Halloween?
I decided there was no reason not to. So, ladies & gentlemen, here are my creepy little “candy specimen” jars for Halloween! You can fill them with candy, with plastic eyeballs, with rubber snakes, with whatever you want. Use them as part of your “laboratory” for a Halloween party.
Have I mentioned lately that this is my favorite time of year? I have? Oh. Well in that case… should we just get right to the cookies?
Because I’d hate to bore you with tales of how much I adore Halloween. I’d just hate to keep talking about it… I mean, it’s probably obvious. I live for monsters & zombies & black cats & witches. I’m the kid who went to Salem, MA at 8 years old & was fascinated by not only Laurie Cabot’s witch store (where I bought my own wand) but also the fact that there was an actual dungeon. I always loved Halloween. When I was 14, I wanted to go as The Bride of Frankenstein. Problem was back then they didn’t have pre-made costumes for that… so my mom, my uncle Pat & my cousin Tommy all helped to hand-make me a costume. My cousin & his girlfriend rented the movie for us to watch, then we all planned it out- my mother made a dress out of torn old white sheets. She spray painted silk flowers black, & she tied a black ribbon on them for my bouquet. My uncle took a “Vampira” wig & hung it upside down then sprayed that Stiffen Stuff on it to make it stick up. My cousin then spray painted two silver lightning bolts for either side. BAM! Combine that with white face paint, black exaggerated eyebrows & drawn on neck stitches… I won best costume at the party. Take that, parents of kids with store bought costumes.
Yeah. That’s right. Today we’re talking about witches. Because in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s October, and that means one thing to me: Halloween.
Ohh, Halloween. My favorite time of year. The leaves changing (hopefully) & crunching beneath my boots, the air getting brisker, the wind kicking up. The costumes & makeup start appearing in stores earlier & earlier nowadays, but I reserve my Halloween excitement for the first week in October. I refuse to do ANYTHING Halloween-related before October 1st. Yes, it’s my favorite holiday & yes, I’m excited. But it’s like buying Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving; it’s just wrong to me. I’ll wait until October to celebrate Halloween… & I’ll wait until December 1st for Christmas, thanks.
That being said, I was super psyched to post this little cupcake topper how-to. I couldn’t wait any longer! I didn’t come up with this idea myself (unfortunately) but I did somewhat modify it from the original directions. I did that because I didn’t have matching mini cupcake liners & regular liners. I don’t do many mini cupcakes, so I never buy the liners. I adapted the directions to suit me & my materials, and with just a little bit more work put in I think they look just as cute. Ladies & germs, I give you…
Well, not only is it officially fall… summer is really but a distant memory at this point. Gone are the bright citrus colors of summer, the only colors you seem to find now are dark ones; rich chocolate browns, deep pumpkin oranges, burgundies & wines. Pumpkin Spice lattes & hot apple cider have replaced lemonade & iced coffee. It might not be that cold, yet, but it’s coming. It’s time for boots & sweaters & thinking about Halloween costumes.
Plus, the fall wreath I made has been hanging for almost a month! It’s time. Next up: halloween wreath. But first… the Friday Fifteen: Autumn love.
First off, for me autumn is perfect candle burning weather. My favorites for this time of year are Yankee Candle‘s Witches Brew & Pumpkin Wreath, 1803 Candle‘s The Weathered Crow & Wood Stove Pie, Akeewakee Candle‘s Cedar Cinnamon Leaves (which I’m afraid was a gift a few years ago, and now I can’t find it anywhere on the internet) and two I got from Anthropologie: Vetiver Cedar & Golden Patchouli. There is nothing better than reading a book at night with one of these burning. And maybe a hot cup of tea.
My new favorite thing: putting tealights in brioche tins. It’s insanely simple, but it looks so beautiful on a table. Romantical lighting, foodie style! I suggest using bright silver-toned tins, not the darker non-stick variety (save those for actual baking). I got mine at Sur la Table.
Okay… last but DEFINITELY NOT LEAST: if you remember my last thrifting post, you’ll remember that I’m constantly on the look out for Pyrex “Spring Blossom” (or “Crazy Daisy”) patterned items as well as any pink/turquoise/black Pyrex items. Well, I’ve gotten some AMAZING finds! First a pair of 1950′s pink “Gooseberry”Cinderella Bake-Serve-Store casseroles; 1 qt. & 1 pt. Price? $3.00! Then, I got the final item to complete my mom’s “Spring Blossom” set: the smaller white bowl for $1.99. So now my mother’s set is finally “complete” & I got my very first pink Pyrex. Thanks again to Pyrex Love for all the education. Now, I’m still looking for more Spring Blossom, Butterprint & Gooseberry. I still want any & all pink/turquoise/black & white Pyrex I can get. But I’m reallysearching for the holy grails of Pyrex (to me anyway): Barbed Wire, (black) Snowflake, Duchess, Balloons, Medallion & Starburst.