Thrifting Thursday - Caroling Vases

This week I hit the Christmas vase jackpot at my local thrift store.  I just can't get over how cute this little pair of carolers (that's what I'm calling them) are. 

I paid quite a bit for thrift store prices, $15 for the pair.  But, to be honest, I would have happily paid more. I'm going to have so much fun pulling these out every Christmas.

The bottoms are marked "Margaret", I googled it, but came up with nothing. So, if you have an idea when these were made or where, I'd love to know.  Even if they are of no value at all, I still LOVE them. 

What a handsome couple the make with some simple ever greens in them.

I really haven't been thrifting all month.  I sure glad I stopped at my favorite thrift store this morning.  Have you found any treasures lately?  


Lemon Linzer Cookies

These might be the prettiest cookies ever. Each cookie offers two buttery shortbread cookies with blackberry jam sandwiched between them. My mom bought me a Linzer cookie cutter set (this is a similar one) a couple years ago, I like to make them for Valentine's day with a heart cut in the center.   A star feels festive for the Christmas.

Lemon Linzer Cookies
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups cake flour
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Blackberry or Raspberry Jam

Mix the butter , vanilla and lemon zest together with an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Finally add the flour one cup at the time, and mix well. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 mins in the fridge.

Roll out the dough on a well floured surface to 1/4" thick.  Cut about 16 of each the tops and bottoms of the cookies.  Place the cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.  Place the cookies in the fridge for about 20 mins before baking in a 350 F oven for about 12 mins.  

Cool the cookies on the rack completely before filling with blackberry or raspberry jam. Dust the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar. 

This recipe is adapted from the recipe that came with the cookie cutter. 

Dala Horse Salt Dough Ornaments

I just can't get enough of Swedish Dala Horses.  I've shared before, but my Grandpa was Swedish and last year we had the privilege of getting to go to Sweden and meet some of our extended family. Christmas seems like a good excuse to bring out as many Dala Horses as possible. 

I love to find ways to make inexpensive decorations and ornaments.  Salt Dough is about as cheap as you can get.  Years ago, I made salt dough ornaments and even posted a DIY video. I decided to see if I could paint salt dough in rich colors and metallics.  I think the results look almost like ceramics, it's hard to tell that this is just salt, flour and water.  

Now that Pantone has released 2015's Color of the Year - Marsala, I'm ready to embrace it. Last year's color was honestly not my favorite (Radiant Orchid), but this rich burgundy-ish color is right up my alley.  

Using my favorite spray paints, Design Master, I created a ombre-like, metallic version of Marsala with Burgundy and Rose Gold.

Here's how to make these painted salt dough ornaments:
  1. First follow the Salt Dough recipe linked above to create the shapes you want for your ornaments. I used a Dala Horse cookie cutter that we picked up in Sweden. Follow the directions for drying them thoroughly before you paint them. If the edges are a little rough, you can take a little sand paper and smooth them out.  
  2. Start with the solid burgundy color. Paint the back of the ornament first.  You will need to paint 2-3 coats to get a nice dark color.  Design Master paints are perfect for layering and you need only 5 minutes for drying between coats.
  3. Apply the Metallic Rose Gold paint to just the bottom half of the Dala Horse.  This will give the effect of ombre or metallic dipped. Spray a light coat across the bottom of the ornament. Go back and layer one more coat of the rose gold on just the feet of the Dala Horse. 
  4. When the ornaments are completely dry, thread twine or string through the hole and decorate!

The possibilities are endless. You can cut and create any shape ornament for your tree, as long as you have a cookie cutter. It's such an inexpensive way to make custom ornaments for you tree.

Be sure to check out the some of the other fun DIYs of created using Design Master Spray Paint - DIY Faux Copper Vase, DIY Ombre Give Thanks Banner, Metallic Dipped Taper Candles, and the Gold Dipped Yarn Hanging

I buy my Design Master paints and my local Michaels and Joann Fabrics. Design Master paints can paint the most delicate of surfaces, such as silk and fresh flowers, fabric, ribbon, tulle, lace, paper, foam board and Stryrofoam TO the sturdy hard surfaces such as wood, metal, masonry, terra cotta, ceramics and plaster. Design Master is a great resource for products and ideas.  Be sure to check out all the craft and project ideas on their blog.  

This post is sponsored by Design Master. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible. 


Candy Cane Brownies

If you are curious to see how far my blog has come.  You can look back at this post from 4 years ago to just see how much better my photography has gotten at least.  I've updated the recipe a little bit, and I think they are even better now.  I'm using my mom's Chewy Brownie recipe that she's made most of my life.  Why change a tried and true recipe?

I love this holiday take on a classic American dessert. Who doesn't love a chewy, decadent brownie, and topped with Candy Canes, they are even better.

Chewy Brownies
2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla or peppermint extract
1 cup flour

In a medium sized pan, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the sugar and cocoa well.  In another bowl, beat the eggs and then add them to the butter, sugar and cocoa mixture.  When the eggs are mixed in well, add the vanilla and the flour and stir until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into a greased 9X13" pan.  Bake at 325F for about 25-30 mins, or till the tops of the brownies are shiny.

Fudge Icing
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cream or half and half
3 tbsp. cocoa
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Crushed candy canes or peppermints

In a small pan, melt the butter, cocoa and cream.  Whisk together until there is no lumps of cocoa. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and then the powdered sugar. Whisk by hand until smooth. Pour the icing over the warm brownies. Sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces on the freshly iced brownies.  Allow the brownies to cool before cutting.

If you have a Christmas party or get together that requires you bringing a treat, why not bake a pan of these?  I bet you have most of the ingredients already.

And the winner of the Cricut Explore Machine is..........

Kim Coers - she won by following Oleander and Palm on Pinterest.  Check your email Kim!!! Congratulations!


14 days of LOVE - Cricut Explore Giveaway!

Yep, you read that right, today I'm giving away Cricut Explore Machine!!!!!  I'm a huge Cricut fan. I had a Cricut way before I was a blogger. I use it often and for so many different things. And no, I'm not a scrapbooker, my Cricut helps me DIY with polished, professional results every time.

I love giving gifts that have a little personal touch to them.  I cut simple His and Hers out of white vinyl (this is the permanent stuff, I buy it from a local sign company), and then stuck them on insulated thermoses that I found at IKEA.  I think this is a pretty fun gift to give a couple you love. 

I'm giving you a couple ways to enter.  Fill out the rafflecopter below:

This giveaway is open to US residents only.

 We sure hope you have enjoyed this Holiday edition of 14 Days of LOVE. We love our readers, thank you for faithfully following through good posts and bad. Your support is what keeps us going.


Christmas Buntings

I've been having a lot of fun with my Cricut Explore machine lately.  I've made a bunch of fun stuff for the Christmas with it.  I've got Christmas buntings coming out of my ears actually.  I love that this machine can cut through thick glittered card stock with precision.  If you like these buntings, I'm having a little Instagram sale, check out this post if you'd like to order one.  

I also wanted to remind you that tomorrow is the last day of our 14 Days of Love Giveaway and I'm giving away a Cricut Explore Machine!!!!  So be sure to come back tomorrow and enter.


Colorado Blue Spruce Potted Christmas Tree

If I have the choice, it's always for a live Christmas tree.  Nothing beats the smell and look of a real one. But, when we lived in Papua New Guinea and Yemen, a little fake one had to make do, but honestly, it's just not the same.

Since we hope this little guy will be apart of our family Christmas's for many years to come, we decided to name him. Please meet 'Bruce the Spruce'.  I told you last week that I'd share a little more about our Christmas tree this year and how we are caring for it. We decided to try a potted Christmas tree.  The hope is that we will get to use the same tree for a few years in a row.  Each Christmas we will bring the tree inside, but the rest of the year, it will live outside in a shady part of our yard.  It was not easy to find a live evergreen here in Bakersfield.  But, the only nursery in town to carry some had a couple varieties of Colorado Blue Spruce. I love the color of it's needles.  They are a gorgeous silvery, muted green.

I bought the tree in what they call "Ball and Burlap", which just means the root ball in contained in burlap.  This tree is a 4-5 ft. tree and cost about $70, which isn't much more then a cut tree in Southern California.

I found a large enough pot and Home Depot for just $14.99, it's black plastic, but the price was right and I think it looks pretty sharp.  I really didn't want a ceramic pot that would just add more weight to this already VERY heavy tree.  With both Lon and I and the help of a skateboard, we barely got it in the house. That root ball is like solid cement.

Keep reading for potting and care instructions.

Ok, so here's a little instruction on potting and caring. First, find a large enough pot for the tree. Peel back the burlap around the base of the trunk to expose the soil, but don't remove the burlap from the sides and base of the ball. Place the root ball in the pot and fill in the pot with good potting soil. Water the tree with ice, this will help keep the tree cooler while it's inside and allow it to be watered over time. I've found that the first couple of days the tree took about 4 cups ice everyday, and now that the tree is 3 1/2 weeks in the hour, it seems to only be needing about 4 cups of ice every other day. The folks at my local nursery said to just watch if the tree starting dropping a lot of needles. Sometimes this can mean that the tree is too warm or needs more water.  So far, Bruce is happy. Fingers crossed that we can keep him alive. 

I decorated the tree with some of my old favorites and added the mini pendant ornaments and a few new pieces from The Land of Nod.

What kind of tree do you have this year? Are you a live or fake tree family?