Tuesday, December 31, 2013

P.S. One last thing

So long 2013

It's been a funny year. I lost my job, joined the Graphic 45 design team, got published, gained weight, laughed, ate, drank, and was quite merry through it all (except the job part... that stunk). We survived the great ice storm with only a tiny bit of power loss and no mail for almost 2 weeks (gasps!) ... but we survived, and gaily so. We're fortunate. We know it.

Tomorrow a bright and shiny new year begins. Truth be told, I'm not really one for the New Year hub-bub. I don't make resolutions or mark the occasion in any special way. I may watch the telly and sip on some bubbly at the appropriate moment (although any moment is the appropriate moment for bubbly) but that's about the extent of it. Really, I'm always hoping that the nice things in life snowball. That the good gathers momentum and grows... forever and always, not just the new year.

I thought perhaps I would take a look at some of the work I completed in 2013. I produce quite a bit but I don't often look back. I think that prevents me from getting too sentimental and makes it easier to let go. On the other hand, sometimes its nice to reminisce, so here are a few of my favourite projects from the past year in no particular order...

A Starry French Country Shrine One of the very first things I created as a Graphic 45 design team member and also one of my favourites :)

 "Chook in the snow" An acrylic painting of one of our hens pecking at scratch in the snow.

  A story told through a series of miniature letters, abandoned here and there for strangers to find. I never did post the whole story on the blog... hmmm.

 A paper butterfly tree made with all sorts of goodies from Alpha Stamps and Graphic 45.

Toadstools of the Giant Variety These weren't very pretty come fall but they were amazingly intact considering the 5 months of weather they had endured.

Lovers Memento For someone who isn't very romantic I do sometimes get quite broody and dreamy and long for sweet nothings to whispered.

The Borrowers Box I created this piece for a craft challenge then abandoned it at my local library. I never did hear from it's finder. I hope they liked it.

The Wild Little Things I'm still not done with this series of photographs (despite being bitten by a tick and convincing myself that I would die from Lyme disease while shooting).

Sugar Plum the largest single piece I've ever worked on and one of my favourites.

A Big Bright Moon Another piece from my December show. It's one of my favourites because it seemed people couldn't help but stick their heads inside for a better look.

A small space This last piece may seem a bit silly but it's one of my favourite pieces. There's so much jammed into that little space. The mousetrap is one of the smallest things I've ever made and I was just terribly proud of it.

It seems impossible to me that these projects were created over the past 12 months. It feels as though years have passed for since some of them were created. What was your creative year like? Do you set goals for the future? What do you hope the new year will bring?

Anywho, don't stay up too late tonight. Don't drink and drive. Have a very happy New Year and all that jazz and I'll see you 2014!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Rest and solitude

Today I am enjoying the quiet of my house. All of our guests have left. The kiddo is playing at friends house. I am alone with the dog and other critters, enjoying the first moments of solitude in what feels like ages. 

I'm soooo looking forward to getting back to making. I haven't done any crafting for a week and it's starting to ware on me. One of the last things I made was this little ATC using Graphic 45's Sweet Sentiments.

I just love the little floral bits of Perfect Petals and Violet Bouquet. So very, very sweet.

Tomorrow I'll be looking back on the past year and some of my favourite projects. How about you? What have you made that you are especially proud of in 2013? Do you have anything grand planned for 2014?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The presents have been opened and I'm sitting with a cup of tea, taking a short break before this afternoon's madness. I hope you're all having a VERY merry Christmas and that Santa was kind to you.

I'm thrilled to have been invited to be a guest designer for Petaloo this month and thought I'd quickly share a peek at the project I created for them using their gorgeous products as well as some Graphic 45 goodies.

If you'd like to see more yummy pics of this project hop over to the Petaloo blog and take a gander :)

All the best for a bright and beautiful Christmas to you and yours

Sunday, December 22, 2013

And so it begins!

We kicked off the seasonal celebrations last night with a quiet family dinner to celebrate the winter solstice. Just ignore the laundry on the back of the couch... or be extra nice pretend it makes the scene look even more homey :)

Here's this year's Yule Log that capped our little feast :) It was very yummy and there's hardly any left!

We are very fortunate and have had only a few flickers of disturbance to our power and one 10 minute spat. I'm knocking on wood and giving thanks that we've survived so far when soooooo many are in the dark and cold.

That darned ice sure is a sneaky thing! These branches are from the the kindling in our fire pit...

This pretty row of icicles is hanging from one of our portable chicken pens.

And this monster is coming out of our downspout!

Each of these globules is ice built up on one of those tiny little spike-ish leaves. Looks like a rather pretty icy flower.

But don't worry one bit about us. We've got bellies full of cake, we've got power, and we've got a good old Canadian wine cooler stocked with the nectar of the gods :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yuletide Merry-making!

There's a storm heading our way tonight. We've done all we can do and are hoping for the best but I'd wager we're going to lose power.

But don't fret for us! Tonight we'll be having a feast to celebrate the winter solstice with a homemade Yule log cake and all. Things can't be all that bad when there's a Yule log involved and you've a cellar full of wine ;)

Please know that we, the whole Pixie bunch, wish you and yours the very best this holiday season... no matter what or how you celebrate :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Traditions and Paper Stockings

This morning was lovely. I do love snow, and on a still day free from bone chilling winds it's glorious to walk in the fluffy stuff and breath in cool fresh air.

Mr. Pixie has once again built a rink for D. It's a biggun' this year, 20' x 40' and the best one yet! We weren't sure if there would be a rink this year but I'm glad there is. It's become tradition now and it's a good one. Funny how something made from scraps of wood and tarps seem so important. Funny how things built from scraps can be the dearest things of all.

Speaking of scraps of this and that... how's this for cute?! A wee paper stocking I made for Alpha Stamps using all sorts of wonderful bits and bobs from their December 2013 Kit - Christmas Stockings.

I just love their classic gnomey (gnomeish?) collage sheets.

I mean, just look at that face! A jolly fellow indeed :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

A chill

It's been cold here... very cold.

Just like sticky summer days where it's not the heat but the humidity that gets ya, so too the cold is encouraged by 'wind chill'. While it may only be -7ºC outside, the wind that nips at our cheeks feels like -15ºC. Today doesn't seem so bad but this evenings overnight temperature is estimated at -17ºC, feeling like -27ºC! Eeeee Gads!

But the cold does do pretty things. Magical things.

Like decorate our windows...

provide wintery white bouquets...

soft fluffy snow...

and beautiful feathered ice.

If you happen to be nearby and want somewhere warm to visit ;) the studio is open for drop-in visitors today from 12 to 6 and Saturday 11 to 4.

For those who live too far for a visit I'll be posting some sales this weekend in my etsy shop.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Graphic 45 Christmas Cracker!

Just in case you haven't noticed Graphic 45 has been hosting the most amazing 12 Days of Christmas event. There's a boatload of serious eye candy on their blog so you should run right over with a napkin for any drooly accidents. AND because they are the most generous crafty bunch ever... check out the prize pack you could win just by leaving a comment on the Graphic 45 blog! A winner will be announced tomorrow so hurry over.

Now, I happened to be given the 12th day of celebrations and here is my little contribution....

We have a combined Christmas in my household, celebrating both my husbands Italian roots and my British background. One of the Brit traditions we always include is the Christmas Cracker. Just before dinner, guests grasp the ends and pull apart these little treats, a small snap inside ‘CRACKS!’ as it breaks open. Inside is a paper crown to be worn during the feast, a joke or motto, and a small treat, gift or trinket.

Graphic45_ 12 Days of Christmas_Cracker_Crown_Nichola Battilana_gift, tutorial, holiday,

Want to make your own? Here's the supply list:

Cracker snap (I purchased mine from Michaels’s 12 for under $3)

Tissue Paper

Double Sided Tape

• Botanica Minis in Cranberry/Amber/Orange

• Velvet Hydrangea leaves

Trinkets and treats for inside the cracker.

And here is how to create your very own Traditional English Christmas Cracker.


Begin by creating the paper crown. The crown should be quite simple and not heavily embellished as it will be rolled up. Create your own version or use THIS .template

I’ve cut the two pieces from the template from 12 Days of Christmas. **NOTE the template only measures 11” across. Clip or incorporate the extra 1” however you see fit.


Use some double sided tape to adhere the layers together. Take a 28” length of coordinating ribbon and affix it with double sided tape to the crown, adhere the middle of the ribbon with the middle front of the crown. The extra length at the sides will be used to tie the paper crown to your head.


I lightly embellish with some dots from the 12 Days of Christmas Banners and a festive 12 Days of Christmas Sticker. DO NOT over embellish.

Now we move on to creating the actual cracker. Begin by cutting two pieces of coordinating paper into 5” x 6” rectangles.


I’m going to use the piece from the 12 Days of Christmas 6x6 Patterns & Solids Pad for my inner tube. I place a double width of 2 sided tape down the length of the short edge of the paper. I want this inside tube to be slightly smaller than the outsider one.


With the inner tube now created, I roll my paper crown tight enough to fit inside. I can also place any other treats, jokes or small items inside at this point. (Psst! If you have trouble keeping them from falling out, you can sneak them in later!)


Using a small piece of tape (or hot glue, or any other adhesive) tack a snap into place. This will help to keep it in place when it is pulled apart. Do not affix it in the centre, where the snappy bit is.


By bending the strip like the photo below, you further help the snap to stay in place.


I fold a standard piece of tissue paper in half and tightly roll it around my tube. Don’t worry about the excess width, we’ll need it. Tack in place with a tiny bit of hot glue or double sided tape.


 Try to avoid squishing the ends as you wrap the second piece of 5” x 6” paper around the outside. Align this outer roll with the inside one.


You should have something that looks like this...


At this point I usually trim about 1” from either end of the tissue. Making sure the the ends are neat and tidy.

To create clean, crisp rolls at the end I make an extra tube that is slightly smaller than my cracker. This doesn’t have to be pretty as it is going to be my rolling tool.


Insert the roll tool inside the end of the cracker. You’ll want to leave about 1-2” of space between the end of the tool and the edge of the crackers tube.


Firmly twist until you have a nice tight seal and a neatly rolled end. Peek inside and you should see the end of the snap poking out of the centre of the twist.


To ensure the twist does not unfurl, tie a small piece of ribbon to hold everything in place.


If you were having trouble keeping your treats inside the cracker, you can now sneak them inside by pushing them in the open end before repeating the same twisting technique to seal the opposite side.

The final step is to embellish the exterior. Use coordinating ribbons, and tags, Fussy cut flowers and lords-a-leapin’. I’ve added a decorative brad and some beautiful flowers and leaves from Petaloo.


When you’re setting your Christmas table, place one cracker on each plate and have guests pull them apart before the feasting begins. And make certain that everyone wears their silly paper hats… they make Christmas merry and jolly indeed!