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!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Feeding winter friends

I made a big batch of suet bird balls last night and had a couple of requests for my 'recipe'.

For this batch I used some ground up fat left over from one of Mr. Pixie's sausage making adventures. I added bird seed, oats and cornmeal. My fat was quite firm as it had been in the fridge, so I heated a small portion to make the ingredients easier to combine. Then I smashed and mashed until it was nicely mixed. After I form them into balls, I pop them in to the freezer to firm up.

You can use different types of fat to make feeder balls including lard and vegetable shortening. You can even add peanut butter! The fat can hold quite a bit of dried seed/grain material. 1 part fat to 3 or 4 parts dried material will work well. You can add seed, nuts, cornmeal, fruits and grains.

When ready, tie well with string and hang on a spindly branch so that the cheeky squirrels can't get at them.

Quick notes: Rice is fine for birds and will not harm them... they will not explode. Peanut butter will not make their beaks stick together. Fat is a very good thing to feed winter birds as it is a good source of energy and helps to keep our feathered friends warm.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Zero sleeps and another house

Well the big day is here...

I'm nervous no one will come but excited because I bought the little cupcakes for anyone who does come.

ALSO I managed to finish up another indoor house.

Again, it's about 2 feet tall and kinda cute :) I'm smitten with these new abodes.

This one even has mushrooms growing on the roof. There was some debate as to whether to put them on or not, but I said it makes perfect sense since mushooms grow on logs and trees all the time.

Because I'm the boss around these parts I won the debate and they were included ;)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

An Indoor Pixie House

When I saw these giant paper cones at Micheal's on sale for just $1.99 I snagged a slew of them because I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

So last night, when I very well should have been doing something else entirely, I made this...

The birch body of the house is a limb from a tree at the bottom of our hill that fell a short while ago. The piece is actually quite big, measuring almost 2 feet tall.

The tippy top of the roof is a deconstructed then somewhat reconstructed pine cone. I think it's really cute but man-o-man was working with that pine cone a pain in the bottom!

That's Pixie Hill moss on the roof, picked from the western lawn where the faeries troop and leave toadstool trails. That cute berry vine is the Mini Red Pip Berry Garland from Alpha Stamps.

And finally the wee door. My kidlet says the handle is too small but it'll have to do for this abode. Construction just finished! There's no way I'm doing renovations just already.

And there you have it! These will have to be faerie houses of the indoor variety because I am quite certain that the rain and squirrels would destroy this in about 10 seconds. That's fine and dandy because indoor faeries need homes too.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Sugar Plum Reception

The Saturday reception for my show at the gallery at Impresario is fast approaching and I can feel my anxiety rising. There promises to be mulled wine and nibbles so maybe I can muddle my way through.

If you happen to be near by I'd love for you to drop in and say 'hiya!'. I'll be the frumpy wreak with a glass of wine and befuddled expression on her face :P

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Coffee Filter Roses - How to!

Last week I posted this photo of the coffee filter roses that are on one of my large mixed media canvas' pieces.

A few people asked for a tutorial... and because I loves ya I'm happy to oblige.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Fog, Tea and Fussy Cutting

This was the view all day today.

It's awfully slushy and foggy out there. All damp and dreary. A perfect day for too many cups of tea and a bit of paper crafting.

And so I spent the afternoon making ATC's, playing around with Graphic 45's newest collection: Sweet Sentiments. It's a fussy cutters dream :)

P.S. I'm mostly set up for my show Sugar Plum & Other Faeries... but there'll be a few finishing touches added on Thursday, just in time for the opening reception on Saturday the 7th. Hope you can make it!