Archives for posts with tag: Xmas

Basic, basic, basic supplies are all that's needed for this gift. That, and an idea.

When I was a kid and Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day or Easter or a birthday or… any holiday rolled around, I would break out the felt pens and paper and glue and scissors. I would make my family and friends little imitations of “real world” honours, things like badges, crowns, and certificates. When I grew a little older I transferred this urge to cut, draw and paste my gifts into the idea of specialized coupons.

Coupons are great to offer services that cannot be wrapped up in a box: “One Free Car Wash”, “One Free Babysitting”, “One Dozen Cookies (need 24 hours notice)”, “A Vacuum of The Entire House”… you get the idea.

You could use some of the simple book-binding skills we covered the other day, as I did in the example below. Simple-simple! I just cut may paper to size, stapled once. I took care that the pointy-bits of the staple went to the inside. I also cut a little into each page just inside from the “binding”, so my coupon-recipient would find it easy to rip them out of the little book.

Easy gift: Proving that it's the thought that counts.

All of the papers in the Coupon Book were destined for Recycling… they’ll still be recycled, just are being diverted along the way.

Natasha Henderson in Montreal, wishing everyone a Happy Holiday and a Merry Christmas!

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Last Christmas one of my favorite gifts to receive was a set of handmade fridge-magnets. My pal made these with old bottlecaps (never throw them away again!), glue, magnets, images, and glitter. Remarkably simple, and completely fantastic. This link provides clear instructions on how to make them, but basically, you just need to apply those objects together in a way that makes sense. One good note is that “you want to glue the non-magnetic side so to the bottle cap and leave the magnetic side exposed so it adheres to metal.” Yup!!!

My friend gave me a Catholic picture to remind me of her, and two Simpsons images chosen especially for me.

Natasha Henderson in Montreal

Reflecting upon the season in the Jean Talon Market, Montreal.

photo by Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Last year I gave my family all a variation of the same thing for Christmas… Coasters. They were Cute felt coasters,  decorative and waterproof!  Real wool felt is great for this project, because wool is a natural insulator from temperatures and also moisture. I like to line the felt with cork, for an added layer of insulation.

Cork for the bottom of the coasters can be very thin.

Take some felt, a bit of cork-board (available at many stationery stores), glue, and something for “edging” (like a scrap of leather, a bit of twine or ribbon, sequins…)

Make a circle out of paper as your template. No-one likes a miniature coaster, so be generous. One time I used a plastic thing that was headed for the recycling-bin, another time I used the top of a huge mug I have (keeping the pen-tip away from the cup, of course).

Use this template to trace onto the cork, then cut out the cork circles. Next, cut circles out of the felt. Simply glue together, and then glue your edging around to look all pretty.

My personal coaster, after a year's HEAVY use (every day at least twice, still holds up!)

I used home-made felt, but store-bought felt would do, as would any non-fray or cute-fraying fabric (other wool, denim…) Keep in mind that most “felt” sold at craft stores is actually made from synthetic fibres, unless they mark it clearly to be wool. Real wool felt is more expensive than synthetic; however, it provides a real barrier for heat, cold, and moisture so it’s better for coasters. Happy crafting!

I have a small, possibly boring (no! Don’t leave!) story to share. A couple of years back, I had a job in “The Fashion Industry”. One of the little perks they’d give us was access to a mass Sample Sale twice a year.

This one has the beautiful Indian ribbon sewn to it.

Leftovers from the stores, samples that were made and discarded, and assorted wearable rejects were sold to employees of this nameless corporation by the pound. It worked out to about $1 per garment, and somehow everyone would score some nice stuff. I got my yoga-pants from one of these, and believe me I’m wearing them to the ground. Anyhow, during one of those sales I came across a bag of black polyester-fleece gloves with little pom-poms sewn on the wrists.

Quite cute already, but I thought “I’ll do something with these…” A year or so later, I did! I stuck with a colour theme for each pair, and used embroidery floss and sequins and beads that I already had.

So cool they're hot; so hot they're cool. Fire and Ice...

The most popular gloves have turned out to be the ones on which I simply sewed a colourful ribbon around the top. This ribbon was imported from India many years ago, and at the time was rare to find in mainstream shops. Since then, thankfully, many of the craft and sewing shops have similar ribbons available.

You could sew on a fringe, a bit of cord, some braided leather, some leftover bits and pieces of most anything. I would like to do something similar with old gloves I find in the fripperies and second-hand stores!

A couple of technical pointers: if the gloves are stretchy, either use stretchy thread or make certain that you stretch the material as you sew on the decorations. Try to not sew where there will be a lot of wear. This way your threads won’t be in immanent danger of breaking when the gloves are worn. You might notice that I stuck to decorating just the cuff area. Another suggestion is to tie knots often, so that if a thread does break, all your work will not come undone.

Happy decorating! I glove Christmas!

Decorated Gloves

Natasha Henderson in Montreal

Let’s face it people, December is one cold, dark month.  So, naturally, we have this urge to light candles, listen to music and decorate.  We spice it up and bring aromatic herbs, spices, citrus and branches into our homes.  Each step outside is an act in bravery as face the sharp chill of the air and trudge along on wintry walks, sometimes taking the time to look at lights, snow flakes and trees.  We head out to parties wearing something sparkling or velvety or both.  We fire up our kitchens with baking, creating, cooking and sharing with loved ones.  Weekend afternoons stretch along nicely with a warm drink and a long book.   Yeah, let’s face it, we love this time of the year!

This month Natasha and Tammy are busy working on all sorts of things!

Gear up for an outrageous number Do It Yourself gift ideas.  One for every day until December 24!

Are you ready for photos on the theme of FIRE AND ICE? Facebook fans can upload their pics for a chance to be a part of this feature!

We have Natural décor ideas,

Ecological and Ethical gift-giving solutions,

and herbal remedies that people will be talking about this month.

Also up, experiments in Recipe Makeovers,

Natural Connections in our verdant city, and

Tips to De-Stress and De-Compress.

So, get in from the cold with a Hot Art Exhibit

and Enjoy a good chuckle with some festive Cartoons!

It’s December!  It’s our second month of Fleurbain.com.

Besides the crunched-up almonds and vanilla, these are the ingredients.

A few days ago I shared the story about my favorite Christmas recipe: Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls. I had expressed a hope that I would be able to improve the healthiness of this treat, while maintaining the deliciousness of it. I think that somehow, through luck or divine intervention or possibly even ingenuinity, I managed to actually improve the recipe. Please don’t tell my Mom I said that.

So, if you look at the recipe for Peanut Butter Balls, you will see that icing sugar is called for. No. Not using that. I replaced it, on the advice of my Herbalist-Friend Tammy, with dates! They were available at the local cool grocery/convenience-ish store. One could use figs in the same way. I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter, and almonds in place of peanuts. I used good quality nice chocolate. I think my Mom’s already onto THAT one.

Mashing it up with a fork...

So, to be all precise, I used the amount of almond butter that I had left in the fridge. That’s about one cup. Then I chopped up the delicious “meat” of five dates, mixed that in with a dash of vanilla and a handfull of crumpled-up bits of almonds. I formed them into little balls, refrigerated overnight. The next day I took three (perhaps one too many) Lindt 70% Cacao chocolate bars and melted them. There is leftover chocolate (I threw the pan in the fridge) so I am compelled to make more of these. Darn… Coat the little tiny balls in the chocolate, let sit in the fridge overnight.

Delicious and somewhat nutritious too!

Roll the balls in the chocolate... mmm...

I presented them at an event (after taste-testing them a few times, of course) and everyone who tried them LOVED them. No one over-ate, and they just savoured the high-quality and richly flavoured little treats. So good. My new Christmas tradition…

Natasha Henderson, in Montreal

Important Update: See Comments below…

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