How to make – Large, faux CHRISTMAS CANDY Decorations

Every year, pool owners purchase these inexpensive (apx. $1.00 each) 5-foot, foam “noodle” floats.  Eventually, they fade and are, many times, thrown out.   As always, I LOVE to think of ways to recycle and repurpose things (instead of adding to the landfill) and came up with a creative idea, using  retired pool noodles.  Of course, you can also buy them new (on clearance – post summer!) to make this project too.

My vision was to create several large, faux candies (for holiday decorating), mainly because they’re lightweight and won’t weigh down (tree, wreath & garland) greenery … PLUS, they’re inexpensive!

ONE

Begin by deciding approximately how long you would like to make each piece of candy (I chose 9″) and divide that number into the total length of the pool noodle to determine how many you’ll be able to cut from each one.  Mark (that individual measurement) along the length of the pool noodle (using a black marker) and then, carefully cut (using a knife) through the foam at each marking, on a safe surface.  I ended up with six (6) lengths, apx. 9″ each.

TWO

Choose a gift wrap, scrapbook or tissue paper to cover them with and cut pieces large enough to wrap each (cut) foam piece and wide enough so you have extra to fold down at each end of the foam piece (to hide the end of the foam).

To create a neat closure, fold over one end (of the length) and place one foam piece, in the center, at the other end.

Before you roll the foam piece up in the paper, add 3 pieces of double-sided tape along the length of the fold, half on the folded paper and half on the underneath (blank) side of the paper.

Now, when you roll up the foam piece, the tape will automatically secure the paper (closed).  Unless you want to, don’t worry if the pattern doesn’t match up perfectly because that will be the “back side” of your ornament.

Fold down the paper on each end and use a piece of regular scotch tape to secure it.

 

THREE

Repeat the paper cutting process (above), but this time using clear, plastic basket wrap.  This time, however, make sure the length is even longer (by 6″).

Place your gift-wrapped foam length in the center of the plastic wrap, at one end of the width.  Before you roll it up, once again, add 3 small pieces of double-sided tape on the other end (of the width) so the plastic wrap will automatically close, after rolling up the foam candy in it.  Also, try to line up the 2 closures (paper & plastic wrap) and that can be the back side of your ornament.

FOUR

Cut two (2) lengths of ribbon, using one to tie each end (of the plastic wrap) closed, displaying the bow on the front/top side of the ornament.

When you’re done, you’ll have inexpensive, lightweight Christmas candy decorations for approximately 50 cents each.  I found that mine tucked into my holiday greenery easily without the aid of a hanger.  But, if you’re using them to decorate garland, add a length of fishing line (tying it to each end, before adding your ribbon) as an ornament hanger.

I’m excited to share with you how I used mine in one of The Seasonal Home 2012 Christmas designs this year… so stay tuned… COMING SOON! 🙂

And don’t forget to consider this idea for other holidays!

ENJOY THE CREATIVITY!

Eileen

Recycling Halloween Candy

Halloween is almost here (it’s tomorrow, in fact!).  And if things go according to plan, the kids will gather more candy than they could possibly should eat and we’ll have candy leftovers WE shouldn’t eat (LOL), so here’s a few ideas of OTHER creative things you can do with that sweet stash to spread out the sugar rush:

Create a Craft Project!

The next time the kids or grand kids get bored, pull out the (by now, stale) candy, unwrap it and decoupage a light switch or photo frame, with the wrappers, to create unique room accents!

photo courtesy of Martha Stewart

photo courtesy of etsy.com

Turn it into a gift!

The holidays are coming, so you’ll probably need some edible gifts for neighbors, friends, etc.  Click HERE to check out a wonderful “Leftover Halloween Candy Bark” recipe I found on a creative food blog (www.browneyedbaker.com).  What a great way to recycle the candy into something useful!

Create a future treat!

How about using some of the candy to create delightful desserts for the next holiday…. Thanksgiving!

Satisfy a soldier’s sweet tooth!

A nationwide partnership between dentists and Operation Gratitude, a military support organization, sent more than 61 tons of candy to troops overseas last year. Here’s how it works: Dentists buy back candy from kids, then send it to Operation Gratitude, which distributes it to military bases. There are more than two dozen participating dentists in the Chicago area. Visit halloweencandybuyback.com and enter your ZIP code to find one near you!

Keep some for Christmas Decorating!

Candy is exactly what you need to dress up a Gingerbread house or to fill up Apothecary Jars to create some festive holiday decor in your home this Christmas.

photo courtesy of All You Magazine

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

Spooky Halloween Fireplace

Here’s an idea for creating a spooky Halloween fireplace.  And while showing you “how” I created it, I’m also going to cover a few of the “steps” behind my design style.

In Spring 2011, I used a green bird cage as the focal point of a bird-themed design.  [By the way, the bird cage was a collectibles display that a Hallmark store was done using and decided to sell, so I picked it up for only a few dollars.  This happens often in gift shops, so you should always express your interest and leave your name & number with the manager if a unique display catches your eye.]  When I’m decorating, my first step is to find inspiration and this bird cage provided my first bit of inspiration for this spooky Halloween fireplace design.

My second step is to look for things to re-purpose, to save money.  I knew the bird cage would look very different if I simply painted it, so I covered the mirror on the back wall (to protect it) and used a can of black spray paint to give it more of a Halloween look and viola’… a bat cage was born! 

Look for decorations that provide big bang for your dollar, like this large, removable “Flying Bats” window cling.

Re-purpose, before you purchase!  I wanted to place the window cling on a mirror above my fireplace, but there was one problem – I had no mirror above my fireplace! LOL  So, I looked around and moved a mirror from another wall (this one was over a chest in my living room), leaning it up against the wall, above the fireplace.  This not only solved the problem, but once again, without spending any money.  By the way, this would also be a look you could easily create over a tabletop, in a foyer, etc.

Create stories and add “action” to make decorations more interesting.  This draws in visitors who see your seasonal decor and adds whimsy too – who doesn’t love whimsy, especially during the holidays? ;-).  Positioning the (newly painted) bird cage next to the mirror and adding a few of the window cling bats (to the mirror INside the cage) makes it look as though the bats have escaped through the open door of the bat cage.  Adding a small skeleton (inside the cage) created a little whimsy because you find yourself wondering if he was somehow helpful in unlocking the cage door, so the bats could fly free.

Include lighting (lamps, candles, etc.) in your decorations.  I absolutely LOOOOOVE these new Spider candles, so I chose them to add that eerie glow to my mantel scene.  These are some of the best battery-operated candles because they’re lightweight plastic, won’t melt, and not only does the faux wick light up, but also the silver, glittery spider on the front (creating some BONUS lighting).

Combine similar things to add layers to your look.  I got lucky and found this large, gorgeous, silver, glittered crow at a warehouse sale, for only $3.00, and couldn’t resist perching him on top of the bat cage to create even more action.

Accessorize to fill up empty spots!  I added a few small pumpkins, black twig garland (Michael’s Crafts), preserved moss and a length of wide ribbon to fill in the empty spots.

Carry the look all the way to the floor.  I placed larger pumpkins, branches (I gathered outside, spray painted black & added a couple of orange spiders to) and 3 lanterns in the fireplace opening & around the hearth. 

Again, add lighting!  To create a lit look (inside the lanterns), I took one strand of orange lights and fed a few of the lights inside each of the lanterns to give them a warm, autumn glow.

And here’s the complete look… it’s one of my favorites I’ve ever come up with… I hope you like it too!

HAPPY  HALLOWEEN… enjoy the creativity!

Eileen

P.S.  I have a limited number of a few of the items above in my SHOP, while supplies last.

Annual “WELCOME FALL!” Picnic

[CLICK ON ANY PHOTO, for a more detailed & larger view]

This weekend was our Annual “WELCOME FALL!” Picnic at The Seasonal Home… a celebration that I started, several years ago, with the daughters of one of my best friends (who happens to live next door). The first year, it was simply my way of giving her a little parent-break, but has now become an annual tradition. Once my boys were grown, I really missed the creativity of doing fun things like this so now, I’m creating new memories with my 2 sweet neighbors – Emme and Gretta.

This celebration is our way of welcoming in the Autumnal Equinox (a/k/a Fall) and even though it is usually still hot outside, a good fan and our imaginations help us pretend that it’s breezy & cool. Here’s a peek at some of our fun, in case you want to start this tradition yourself.

We always have our picnic first. This year, we decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches (cut into pumpkins), homemade sweet potato fries (Sandra Lee’s recipe, Food Network), and diced apples over graham cracker crumbs with a drizzle of hot caramel (an idea we thought up ourselves). P.S. If you ever want to see a young child have fun, give them some graham crackers in a plastic bag and show them how to turn them into crumbs, using a wooden rolling pin – hilarious!

For dessert, we made a healthier chocolate muffin from a new mix called “Simple Mornings”. They served as our cupcakes, topped with a little homemade cream cheese frosting (Food Network recipe), sprinkles and a small, candy pumpkin.

We had SO much fun making all the food… together!

Of course, we decorated for our picnic too! I found over-sized, felt, fall leaves (in 3 different colors) at The Dollar Tree and we simply used a piece of fishing line to hang them from the pergola beams.

They looked so pretty (moving), when a breeze finally kicked up! Check it out in this short YouTube video I made:

With the addition of a few scarecrows, pumpkins and fall flowers, we were ready to enjoy our “WELCOME FALL” picnic.

And funny enough, every year, we seem to be visited by a representative of Mother Nature. Last year, it was a caterpillar and this year, we enjoyed the company of a beautiful & HUGE Swallowtail Butterfly, who really liked the flowers in my up-cycled wheelbarrow Fairy Garden.

And he didn’t even seem to mind that I was following him around with my camera.

The girls were really hoping he would land on their fingers.

Once he fluttered off, it was time for lunch!

Uhhh… please ignore the well done sweet potato fries – they were the unfortunate casualty of our hectic kitchen preparation.

Once we saw that a few of our fries were slightly overcooked, the girls tried to make lemonade out of lemons by suggesting that “maybe adding some ketchup will help”…. soooooo sweet!

After we ate, it was time for crafts and games! We usually have an apple bobbing contest, but little Gretta is about to lose a front tooth, so we decided to try some new things this year.

So, first up…. a little painting of face masks.

And ta-dum…. the cute, personalized results. Hey, that looks a awful lot like my hair!!

Next, a competitive game of Halloween B-I-N-G-O. Check out the concentration on their faces (LOL).

And last, but not least…. a game of PIN THE HAT ON THE WITCH.

I’m not sure who was the best spinner or worst pin-er, but when you’re having fun, the results don’t really matter.

First up was Gretta….

Hmmm… close! Then, it was Emme’s turn.

In the end, it really didn’t matter who won because I had gathered a few inexpensive, special treats, as a surprise for both of the girls.

I found a cute $1.00 pumpkin box (Wal mart) to place them all in and added a “Happy 1st Day of Fall” note to each.

Once we headed back inside (we had enjoyed the Florida heat & humidity quite enough, thank you very much!), the girls had fun opening their goodie boxes.

Two of their favorite things were the Spider rings, modeled here by Emme –

and a small bag of the newest M & M flavor “Candy Corn White Chocolate”…. YUM!

In the end, we all agreed we had tons of fun and that cupcakes taste even better in air-conditioned comfort! (LOL)

I hope we inspired you to consider starting your own “Welcome Fall Picnic” tradition. 🙂

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

FALL, HALLOWEEN & THANKSGIVING – 3 Looks in 5 minutes or less!

[Click on any photo for a more detailed view]

This may sound strange, but for me… FALL is a tough time of year, when it comes to decorating.  It’s hard to decide whether I want to be surrounded by a Fall, Halloween or Harvest (Thanksgiving) look because I love all 3!  Good news though because, this year, I came up with a solution!  And although I created these looks for my fireplace, I think they would be a great “fit” for a foyer too.

To start, I kept it simple, using…

  • Inexpensive, fall garlands (doubled for a fuller look) with 2 strands of orange lights added-in for warmth & whimsy.
  • (Faux) pumpkins & gourds of all sizes [Hint: I finally own a collection of these because I bought them after they were placed on clearance, and you’ll find small ones at dollar stores]
  • Pumpkin-filled wreath
  • 2 bunches of gathered twigs that I added twine & fall leaves to after spraying them with a Wood Tone Spray Paint (can of diluted, brown spray paint, available at craft stores) by Design Master
  • 2 orange candles on black candlesticks (both found on clearance.  Shop for orange candles during Christmas time & don’t forget, if a bargain candlestick is not the color you need… paint it!)
  • F-A-L-L sign (letters painted on wood blocks).

So, this created a beautiful Fall feel and the base for my Halloween AND Thanksgiving decor too!

A fun whimsical touch that I also added to this look  –  Fall leaves hanging on fishing line, at various lengths, which I taped underneath the mantle to create a “falling leaf” look.  Also in this photo, you’ll spot Brick Clips being used to hang up my F-A-L-L sign, suspended from fishing line.  If you want to hang something from a 2 to 2-1/2″ brick (inside or out), these blend in really well & work great!  You’ll find them in most DIY & discount dept. stores.

The next look is Halloween and I changed or added a total of 6 things to create it:  (1) replaced the orange candles with 2 Spider themed ones.  (Check out my STORE , if you’d like to purchase some of these items)

(2) placed an orange spider web in the center of the wreath…

  (3) exchanged the fall leaves (hanging from the mantle, on fishing line) with black spiders and (4) replaced the F-A-L-L sign with a Halloween one featuring a black crow and the word “NEVERMORE”…

(5) added black (dollar store) crows on top of a few of the pumpkins (a hidden piece of packing tape is your friend here, to keep the crows in place! lol)

and finally… (6) turned around the center pumpkin because it is actually a lighted, faux Jack ‘o Lantern!  For the original Fall look, I wanted to display it as a regular pumpkin, so I used packing tape on the back of a leaf and placed it over the hole (to hide) where the single light bulb is usually inserted (p.s. a leaf lying on a random pumpkin is what actually gave me the idea that leaves should be falling from the mantel and the fishing line idea was born!)

 

For the Halloween look, I removed the Fall leaf, flipped the pumpkin around (to the Jack side), and plugged the light cord into the light strand (already in the Fall garland) –  adding the perfect, final touch to my 5-minute Halloween makeover!

For Thanksgiving, I basically put back the Fall look, but added a Pilgrim couple (also in my store)  in 2 different locations – the center of the wreath and on the mantel, among the leaves.  See which one you like best…

So, there you have it – 3 Fall designs where changing the original won’t take you more than 5 minutes, each time.  Have fun decorating and…

ENJOY THE CREATIVITY!

Eileen

Acorn Treats… an Easy FALL YUMMY!


The kids are back in school and Fall’s around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking about easy recipes (to make) for Fall Festivals, Bake Sales, Classroom parties, Planning Meetings or any Autumn get-together (at work or home)… even Thanksgiving.  Here’s one of my Fall treat recipes and best of all…  it’s not only YUMMY, but super EASY too!!

Ingredients…. SIMPLE!  Hershey kisses (you name the flavor!), “Mini” Vanilla Wafers and Butterscotch Morsels

HELPFUL HINT:  I put these acorn treats together on a day when I had a big batch of chili simmering in my crock pot, which gave me a creative idea to try that actually worked great!   I realized that placing a Hershey kiss or Butterscotch Morsel up against a very warm surface (no stove top burners, of course, but something like a plugged-in, warm crock pot) provided the perfect amount of heat to soften the bottom of the chocolate and butterscotch morsels, allowing me to stick it to another food item – the vanilla wafers!  And I just wiped off the chocolate residue each time.  I would imagine an electric griddle would work too and now that I’ve got your imagination working, I’m sure you’ll come up with a few ideas too.

DIRECTIONS:  Very important…. lay out (and unwrap) all of your ingredients, allowing you to grab them easily and quickly.  Place the flat bottom part of a Hershey Kiss against a very warm surface (like mentioned above), for about the count of 3, remove and immediately stick to the bottom of a mini vanilla wafer.   Place the Butterscotch Morsel against the hot surface, for about the count of  3, remove and stick to the top-center of the mini vanilla wafer.  You’re done and have made yourself a little acorn mini treat!!  Now, go and amaze everyone with your bite-size magic. 😉

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

The Halloween Spider Hunt Game

Are the kids in your house get cranky waiting for the BIG night… Halloween?   Then, here’s a new tradition you can start that will help pass the time.  It’s a fun game that will not only keep them entertained, but will also make them wish Halloween wasn’t coming up so soon.  What?  Did you read that right?  Yes!

Here’s why and also, how it works –  First, you’ll have to decide how many days (prior to Halloween) you want the kids to play your game.  Once that is determined, you will need to multiply that number (of days) “times” how many children are playing.  Once you have that total, purchase a bag of fake spiders (even spider rings would be fine because the rings can help you hang them in odd places) with at least that many inside.

As an example, let’s say you have decided to play THE HALLOWEEN SPIDER HUNT game the entire week leading up to Halloween night and you have 3 children in the house.  So, you will need at least 21 spiders and more if you decide to hide several for each child to find, each day.  Why not get a gross (144) and let them really have some fun!  Then each day, after the kids are at school or have gone to bed, hide a few of the spiders in odd places.  Think Easter Egg Hunt for Halloween :-).  A few suggestions would be:  inside the toilet paper roll, peeking out of a pillowcase or in the silverware drawer, etc.

Explain to the kids that you have spotted plastic Halloween Spiders hanging around the house and you need their help getting rid of them.  Ask them to help you capture the plastic spiders and place them in their own jar.  As a fun, side project, decorating their jar could be a great craft project… personalizing each of them, with your help and a little paint.    The winner of the HALLOWEEN SPIDER HUNT game is the person who collects the most spiders by Halloween night.  And the prize could be something like a cool flashlight (to use during Trick-or-treating) or a Halloween-themed Pez dispenser or Coloring Book, etc.   And a great way to get them to eat dinner (on Halloween night) might be to tell them you’re going to count each person’s spiders and award the prize (to the one who captured the most spiders) after dinner (lol).  Of course, you could give the other spider hunters a little “something” too, as a thank you for helping you rid the house of plastic spiders.

I think you’ll find that the kids will look forward to their new tradition every year!

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

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