Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas is here!

Merry Christmas everyone! I had planned not to have a traditional Christmas tree this year but you know me, I am hard as rock ;) My strength can be measured with simple candy bowl test. Put beautifully paper wrapped candy to a bowl and keep them there "as decoration". Take time how long they will stay there. Not for long I can confess! Well it is OK to say that it is Christmas now. Glittering Christmas tree gives lovely scent to the whole apartment. Hyacinths that I bought yesterday will open just in time for the festive weekend. Here in Finland 24th is the day when gifts are given, tables are full of treats and lovely traditional Christmas programs are on telly.

I have got some knitting to do for present but I know I will get it done easily. The tree has now been 3 days and it has been so cozy to look at the decorations and lights. I folded origami boxes to the Christmas tree lights to add bit of modern touch. As I wrote before, paper crafting has again after a long break become a hobby of mine. I spent many hours just folding rhythmic and listening to radio. I skipped cleaning every corner of the house. It is so dark that no one will notice the difference. Instead of cleaning I put the time into crafting, watching movies and reading. I took a huge pile of movies and books from library so I can spend the holidays reading and relaxing. Mainly I have been reading entertaining and fast paced scifi and historical books and watching romantic movies.

I have already made a plan for holiday menu. Sushi, deep-fried tofu, tortilla, pizza and pita ingredients are waiting in the kitchen. I won´t make all at once but instead I will cook fresh food every day. I was also very inspired by a Finnish talk show Efter Nio and their tips for Christmas menu. Main point was that not everything has to be prepared at home because stores sell lots of good ready made products. So I took the tip by heart and bought small portions of  ice cream, tiramisu and creme brulee from a store. No dessert worries this year! And if I had made all these myself I would have ended with larger portions and less dishes. Now there is little bit of everything.

As usually, this time of the year my thoughts have already been in the coming year. Pantone has declared the color of the year and the Economist has inspiring podcasts that discuss about how the year to come will/might look like. I have made notes and lists about projects and potential trends that I would like to take part. It looks like the year to come will be super inspiring and somehow futuristic. What I have heard predicted as the huge topics for 2017 (climate change for example) I think that it is inevitable that 2017 will be also a year of values and discussion about ethics. But before walking into the year 2017 lets celebrate Christmas.

Have a Peaceful, Relaxing and Merry Christmas 2016!


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Bohemian Scandi Gift Wrapping Ideas

Happy Tuesday! I have found the inspiration for paper crafting again! I have done some small projects during these past years but I haven´t been this keen about paper crafting than I am now. Past days I have been crafting with stamps, papers, paints and sequins and it has been truly inspiring. I used to love making cards, wreaths and other paper craft projects but I have had a long pause. My interests have been mainly on furniture DIYs, recycling projects, fabrics and yarn because those materials and techniques have felt right at the moment. I also think that paper crafts are not as simple as one might think, they require a lot of concentrating and relaxed mind. 

Letting yourself play and create without any productivity goals is very relaxing and I can warmly recommend this to everyone! Don´t make in a hurry but allow yourself time to just look at the beautiful materials, think what you might want to make and then let the time fly! Here are some of my ideas how to make your own gift wrapping paper and cards. Style is something I would describe as bohemian Scandi. Key is to choose quite natural/simple color palette and then play with different patterns.  Techniques are extremely simple: you just cut, stamp and paint.! 

Luxurious Gift Box
Have you already emptied a chocolate box or two even if is not Christmas yet? Yep, happened to me too. But no worries, you can make this beautiful flower decorated gift box. This is a classy way to give a gift. It is nice to give someone this impressive package and say that you have made it by yourself as this looks more complicated to make that it really is! 

You will need: An empty chocolate box, white paperboard that has little pearl shine, wall paper or wrapping paper, sequins, glitter, glue, knife (not sharp but like the one you use for eating), scissors and flower shape cutter.
How to: Cover the chocolate box with wall paper or wrapping paper. Cut 12 flowers from paperboard with flower shape cutter. Go through the petals with knife as you would pull a gift wrapping yarn. Decorate the flowers with glitter and sequins. Glue flowers to the cover of the box.

3 Ways With Wrapping Paper
What would better add homemade feeling for the gift than DIY wrapping paper? Here I introduce three simple ways to decorate plain brown paper or wall paper left overs.

1. You will need: Wall paper, big and small brush, grey chalk/acrylic paint, golden acrylic paint. 
How to: Paint uneven spots with a big brush and grey paint. Use smaller brush and golden paint to make uneven line into every grey dot.
2. You will need: A wooden stamp, dark grey chalk paint, foam brush, brown wrapping paper.
How to: Apply little bit of chalk paint to the stamp with foam brush and press even rows to the wrapping paper. You will have to add paint to the stamp after every picture. 
3. You will need: Brown wrapping paper, golden spray paint, lace table cloths. (I made this paper at the same when I spray painted this Christmas table runner.
How to: Place lace table cloths on the paper and spray the paint. Remove the table cloth and you will have beautiful lace pattern on the paper. 

Stamp and Glitterize Cards

Use acrylic or chalk paint and wooden stamp to make a folklore inspired Christmas cards. Add a little bling bling with few sequins. Point is to make even rows with stamp and place sequins in symmetrical order. Tip! If you don´t have nerve to stamp a whole wrapping paper you can use plain paper and then decorate the gift with this stamped card. 

Star garland from Indiska.

Lots of paper crafting but also some Downton Abbey and winter running have been themes of the week for me. The other day it was -15 Celsius degrees but I got a sudden burst of motivation to go running. Or jogging actually, but it will be running after some months :) Even though the cold weather has it´s challenges soft snow is so good base for running. Evenings I have spent knitting and watching Downton Abbey on DVD. I have already gone through seasons 4-6 plus some specials. I have seen some episodes before but I never followed Downton Abbey on TV. It is great series and even though I know now how things ended I want to see seasons 1-3. I think this series is good Christmas time entertainment with beautiful costumes and interesting story. And it is always nice to learn something new about the history.

What you have been making, watching and reading lately? 

Wishing you all crafty and cosy December days!


Monday, 5 December 2016

Wellness Tips for Christmas Season

As we know Christmas might be the best time of the year but it can also rise the stress level. How to find perfect gifts for all the friends and relatives? How to book time for cooking, baking, cleaning and crafting in the middle of normal everyday tasks? I have collected some simple ideas how to enjoy this Christmas season more and spend less.

Christmas is constant buying and huge stress about the gifts that are coming more and more expensive year after year. I have seen lots of advertisement about new expensive electronics for Christmas. Many stores are offering loan for Christmas shopping, pay time being next year. All for making the best ever Christmas. What has happened to woolen socks, novels and chocolate boxes?

I think the first step is to know your budget and the difference between a Christmas gift and an investment. Of course one would like to give really expensive gifts to everyone. And I think people would be very pleased. But where is the Christmas spirit when you have to start paying the bills next year? It is nice to plan a bigger investment for Christmas season if you have saved in advance. But I think it should be clear what is an investment and what a normal gift. 

It might also be very stressful to come up with gift ideas if you have plenty of gifts to buy. Nowadays when people have lots of stuff it is difficult to figure out what to buy. What I did this year was to give some of my friends little gift in advance instead of a special Christmas gift. I sent a little gift and a card to brighten December days. A nice thought when it is least expected might be more precious than one in a bunch of many at Christmas Eve.

How many of you creative minds have come up with the idea that this year I will make all gifts? In case you really enjoy making and have started early enough to finish all projects this is a great idea. But don´t take pressure of this. A great gift idea is to make a beautiful greeting card and give materials for a project that the person getting the gift can make her/himself. 

In the middle of the busiest shopping season a good old don´t buy nothing -day is refreshing. You will save money by staying out of the shopping centers and you get a fresh start to think what are the thighs that are actually needed to make a warm and cozy Christmas celebration.

New Christmas trends every year, how to decorate Christmas 2016 on a budget. It is part of the modern thinking not to waste things that are in perfectly good shape. It is also a trend to mix both old and new elements together. Old decorations are a good base for holiday decor as they bring back memories. Old or thrifted Christmas decorations can also be transformed by paint, yarn or paper. Internet is full of Christmas DIY projects and crafting can be relaxing activity that gets you to Christmassy mood. Remember that all the ideas don´t have to be made this year but you can save ideas for years to come. 

One quick way to decorate for the holidays is to buy some festive flowers and mix them with nature materials like moss and branches. Ad some baubles to the arrangement, light a few candles and the work is done.

Some prefer to change Christmas table cloths, curtains and carpets. I would advice to buy pieces that go from year after year for the same purpose or to choose seasonal textiles that go at least through the autumn/ winter season. If you like to make big changes in the home decor every season thrift shops might be best places to shop when thinking economically and ecologically. 

Preparing the traditional Christmas menu includes endless hours of cooking and baking plus it comes quite expensive. Traditional Christmas menu is a combination of old and new favorites. Every decade and century has brought it´s own spice to our Christmas table and every year it is nice to try something new. Nowadays different diets (vegan, gluten free..) are also having their influence on the Christmas menu. For example traditional Christmas table in Finland might include some of these: potato casserole, rutabaga casserole, carrot casserole, liver casserole, beetroot salad, mushroom salad, green salad, spiced herring, ham, gravlax, smoked salmon, white fish, dried stockfish, Karelian stew, turkey, rice porridge and plum soup. You get it, quite a lot of food for one or two days! 

Good point to begin with would be to make a list of food favorites. What everyone in your family would like to eat during the Christmas season. What are the elements of Christmas? There is no point making something just because it is part of Christmas if no one wants to eat it. 

After you have decided the favorites start planning weekly meal plans for whole December. Choose what elements you absolutely want to save for Christmas dinner and what could be transformed into an everyday meal or advent dinner. An example: Rutabaga casserole, mushroom salad and some fish for third advent. Rice porridge with plum soup at Friday evening. 

Make smaller portions so you get fresh and good Christmas food every day. Favor vegetarian options and if you like to eat meat prepare little bit of fish or meat. When you eat some of the "Christmas food" in advance and favor veggies you will save both money and time when you don´t have to cook huge amounts for the Christmas table and then think about the everyday meals on December. Also you will have less food waste when you don´t have four casseroles at the same table.

In the middle of everything remember to take time to notice that it is Christmas. For me it is sometimes challenging to sit down and relax as I really love making and preparing Christmas. I think that most adults might enjoy preparing Christmas even more  that the actual Christmas Eve with gifts. Last Sunday I took time to just watch silly Christmas movies and lifestyle programs and knit. I didn´t go shopping or do anything productive. It felt so Christmassy to just be and relax. I am going to make time for more this kind of days and evenings. 

It is also good to have relaxing everyday activities during the Christmas season and holidays. Simple things like walking  and jogging without a rush, reading books and magazines or watching movies or DVD boxes can give a needed pause. There are also some free entrance Christmas concerts, events to sing the most beautiful Christmas carols and markets that are worth going. 

During the season you can also think outside of  the box and make something nice for your neighbors and passers by. Today I saw an ice lantern on the yard of an apartment building. You could also draw something nice to the snow/ sand, put fairy lights that everyone can see or organize little gift wrapping party for your friends.

Do you have more tips for stress free Christmas season? Please let me hear :)

Merry Monday! And Happy Finland's Independence Day at 6.12.