The 12th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

On the 12th Day of Christmas it is time for a story!

Christmas isn't Christmas for me without at least one telling of Prince Edward Island author David Weale's children's book... The True Meaning of Crumbfest .

It is the story of a curious mouse named Eckhart, who sets off to discover the truth about that most abundant time of the year, Crumbfest, when bounteous crumbs miraculously appear in the old Prince Edward Island farmhouse in which he lives. It's a heartwarming tale of the magic that happens when the "Outside" and the "Inside" come together.

Thanks, once again, to David for giving me permission a couple of years ago to tell this wonder-full Christmas story.  It's a delightful book... with wonderful illustrations... for both kids and adults that should, in my humble opinion... GRIN... be in every home library.

Before we get to the story though, congratulations for David are in order.  He scored a Canadian literary coup this year.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre chose Weale’s book Doors in the Air for this year’s Toronto Dominion Bank's Grade One Book Giveaway, the largest free-book distribution program for school-aged children in Canada.

All English and French Grade 1 students in Canada will receive a copy of Weale’s book.

That’s more than 500,000 copies in total. A real honour for a wonderful and deserving author.  More here.


Today would have been my brother Bob's birthday.  He grew up to be a wonderful guy and we really miss him when Christmas rolls around.  When he was little he loved listening to stories and I loved telling or reading them to him.  So snuggle up on a cloud little brother, put a marshmallow on your hot chocolate and start dunking your toast into that chocolatey goodness as you listen...this one is for you too!

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks a million for visiting my blog.  May Christmas bring you the warmth and love of family and friends and may 2015 be healthy and prosperous for you!  See you in the New Year.


Just click on the widget below to listen to the story!


The 11th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

On the 11th Day of Christmas...I am going to show you just how easy it is to create something rather cool from some modeling paste, paint, some twigs, pearl beads and a flower punch.

A few months back, the Coast Collective Gallery had a black and white ball fundraiser.  They asked some of the participating gallery artists to create a picture on a 12 x 12 canvas that could be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the gallery. 

What many people do not know or realize, is that the gallery is now under the auspices of the Society for the Arts in the South Island (SASI)and relies heavily on the participation of many artist volunteers and just a few paid staff (who do a marvelous job and really get a pittance for the hours they put in and what they do!).  So if we want to do anything at all in/at the Gallery, it takes $$$ to bring it into fruition. 

Well I am no painter as most of you know, so I chose to do something a little different with some things I had on hand.  This was the result.

Shinju (The Pearl)
The inspiration came from a pair of beautiful Mikimoto pearls my husband gave me for Christmas one year.  I love those earrings and wear them frequently.  As it happens I was wearing them the day I looked into the mirror while brushing my hair and this vision came to me from the creative vision factory in the sky... chuckle! 

It's somewhat difficult to see but the texture from the modeling paste on the canvas is absolutely marvelous! Just slap it on a canvas and mess with it... old combs, toothbrushes, sticks... whatever is in reach on your art table.  All you need to do once it is dry... leave it for at least 24 hours... is paint it.

The branches are painted black and then a small cherry blossom with a pearl glued in the middle is attached to the branches.  It would make a wonderful gift for someone who likes simplicity in art and loves the dignified beauty of "Japanese stuff"... art, stories, kimonos... like I do!  Give this idea or something similar a try... you can have it done in time for Christmas.

Till tomorrow,

Happy Arting,

10th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Day 10 already!  Here's a lovely "French themed" pillow that is very easy to make and would make a great gift for someone on your list.

French themed pillow with polymer clay buttons

Here's what you need:

1. A throw pillow form... you could recover any that you might already have to get a fresh look.

2. A piece of light colored heavier fabric and matching thread.  You'll need to measure your pillow to figure how how much you need.

3. A piece of wide, heavier lace to go across the top of the pillow if desired.

4. Avery T-shirt transfer paper for inkjet printers.  Just follow the directions on the package for applying the graphic to your material.  DO NOT try and print with a laser printer.  You will muck up your printer (and perhaps even ruin it) as the transfer paper will melt in your printer from the heat.

5. You can find French (and other) themed graphics at the Graphics Fairy. There are some wonderful graphics there.  Just remember to reverse it before you print it onto to the transfer paper !!  I don't know how many times I have forgotten to do that in the past...

6. Large buttons.  I made the buttons out of polymer clay ... they are quite large... about 2" in diameter... but you could use any large buttons you may have in your button box... and to add to the pillow's charm, they don't have to match!!

Measure the circumference of your pillow form from top to bottom and all around.  Add 1" seam allowance.  Now measure the width and add 1" seam allowance on both sides.  Using these measurements, cut this piece out.

On the right side of the material, transfer your graphic to the top of the material leaving enough room for the lace and generous seam allowance ABOVE it.

Place the lace between the graphic and seam allowance. Sew down. 

Fold the material right sides together.  Stitch one end and the top of the material.  Turn inside out.  Insert your pillow. Add the buttons on top of the lace catching the pillow insert as you do so.  This will help anchor the bigger, heavier buttons. Stitch the remaining end by hand.    That's it... DONE!!  Wrap it up and put it under the tree....

Happy sewing,

9th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Everybody loves chocolate right???? Today's offering is chocolate too.. only the kind that doesn't contribute to a muffin top!  These are knitting and crochet stitch markers made from polymer clay that are a last minute addition to a friend's Christmas grab bag... I made a couple extra for me too!!  I am forever losing my place when I either knit or wonder some of the bed socks I made for my sister recently look so gigantic  She's gonna get them for Christmas anyway...GRIN

Just a reminder to those of you in town who haven't taken in the show over at the Coast Collective.  It ends this Sunday... so this weekend is your last chance to see some wonderful "stuff"...

See you tomorrow,


The 8th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today I am going to show you one of the polymer clay compacts I made as a gift to myself!!  I love purple and mokume gane.  This is a technique in polymer clay where many layers (in this case about 30) of clay are stacked together and then shaved off in very thin pieces and applied as a sheet to things like compacts, bowls, earrings, pendants, brooches, etc.. This is then buffed and buffed and buffed until it glows with colour!!  Isn't this gorgeous???

Till tomorrow,


7th day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today I am going to share one of my favourite recipes, especially at Christmas.  Hubby's eyes light up and the lip smacking starts when I mention that I am going to make Portuguese Sweet Bread.  It's a lovely braided loaf and the smell of it baking makes your mouth water.

I am a devoted bread baker... I love the smell in the kitchen each week when I bake bread.  Baking bread smells like home for me and the taste is so much better than what you can get in the store and I dare say sometimes at our local baker.  There are a couple of tricks that make a good loaf...

1. the correct temperature for the water (I always use a thermometer to check it),
2. a warm kitchen (my disaster this past week reminded me of this... when I took my bread out of the oven after rising, as soon as it hit the cold air, those lovely loaves collapsed... poof... they were as flat as a pancake)
3. a warm oven for rising the bread. Heat the oven to 400 degrees for exactly one minute, then turn it off.  It will create a lovely warm spot for your bread to rise.
4. Knead the bread to within an inch of its life (GRIN) I have a professional KitchenAid mixer that does a fantastic job for me... it kneads while I clean up. However, go gently with braid... it doesn't require the same amount of kneading as other breads.

So, get out your baking sheets and let's make  

Portuguese Sweet Bread braid...

  • 2 cups (500 mL) finely chopped, mixed candied fruit
  • 1 cup (250 mL) raisins, seedless
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) port or brandy
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated orange rind
  • 2 pkg active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) water, lukewarm
  • 7 cups (1.75L) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) milk, lukewarm
  • 1 cup (250 mL) toasted and chopped almonds or walnuts
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) halved candied cherries
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) corn syrup

In small bowl, mix together candied fruit, raisins, port and lemon and orange rinds; cover and set aside, stirring occasionally.

In bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the sugar, the water and 1 cup (250 mL) of the flour until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

In large bowl, beat together butter, salt and remaining sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 cup (250 mL) of the flour; beat in milk.

Stir down yeast mixture; beat into egg mixture until blended. With wooden spoon, mix in fruit mixture and nuts. Stir in as much of the remaining flour, 1 cup (250 mL) at a time, as needed to make soft sticky dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead gently for 2 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup (125 mL) more flour if needed. Transfer to large greased bowl; brush top with butter. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free spot for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough; divide in half. Cut one half in three even pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll out each third into strip about 16 inches (40 cm) long. Place 3 strips side by side on parchment paper-lined (or silicone baking mat) cookie sheet. Press together at 1 end; braid strips together.  Repeat to make second braid.

Brush dough with egg. Decoratively arrange cherries over top, pressing into dough. I like to add slivered almonds as well.  Cover lightly and let rise in warm draft-free spot for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Bake loaves in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven (middle rack) for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Transfer to rack and let cool. These loaves can be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks.  Thaw and reheat for 10 minutes.  Brush corn syrup over loaves.  This will make the loaves beautifully shiny and taste absolutely heavenly.

This recipe was found many, many moons ago in Canadian Living Magazine.

So now make yourself a cup of tea or a lovely latte and enjoy a piece of this scrumptious bread while it is still warm...till tomorrow,



6th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Halfway through today!  I went back and forth on what I would show you today and finally decided on showing you some of my snow buddy polymer clay ornaments that are available at the Coast Collective Gallery during the Gifts and Wishes show.  They come with their own little gingerbread house (if you want to keep it in the box) and are all about 2-1/2 inches high.  Don't you think they have the sweetest little faces?

Till tomorrow, happy crafting....


5th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Well here we are at day 5 already!! 

Today's offering is a bit naughty but nice...a red hot corset (with a touch of black lace of course) lingerie bag for a friend's bedroom or bathroom!  They really are PRECIOUS!

If you hop over to Patterns by Junie, you can find the pattern along with a pattern for boxer short trash bags for the car.  Guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of anyone who gets one!

See you tomorrow,


4th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

This is going to be a very short post this morning.  A busy day ahead and slightly tired from dancing the night away at a Christmas party last night!!

So without further adieu, here is today's bit of fun...

This Betty Boop Small Messenger Bag is a Christmas gift for my best gal pal who rides a motorcycle.  She's gonna love it!  With the magic of HP transfer paper and a graphic of your choice, you could make all sorts of lovely, personalized bags for your best pals.  Earlier this year, I posted a tutorial for a messenger bag you can sew in a couple of hours. You can find it here.

See you tomorrow...


3rd Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Welcome to day 3 of Christmas Gifts and Crafts.

Mrs. Santa called this morning and suggested that I show you a photo of her and Santa.  Perhaps the Christmas Pig and Her Helpful Elf too???

These ornaments are made from polymer clay over glass.  They can stand on their own or you can hang them on a tree.  Available at the Coast Collective Gallery in the Gifts and Wishes show, they are all handsculpted by me, antiqued and are one of a kind. But hurry over if you want one of them, they sell quickly!


Christmas Pigs on a Christmas tree bring luck for the whole upcoming year!!

All puckered up waiting for a Christmas smooch!!

Well there you have it for today!  See you tomorrow.


2nd day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today is a fun day filled with sweet little handsculpted, one of a kind,  polymer clay puppies from my PuppyPal collection.

A popular item with dog lovers, kids and grandparents  these are just some of them that are available at the Coast Collective Gallery during the Gifts and Wishes show.  They are approximately 2-1/2" high and come boxed with their own little doghouse.

    A little Maltese just waiting to put a smile on someone's face!

He ain't nothin' but a hound dog just waiting to be welcomed into a new home!

Modeled after my little Shelby, this Bichon Frise is as cute as a button!

Here's a sweet little Havanese pup who just wants to cuddle up with you!

See you again tomorrow,


12 Days of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today is the kick off for my 12 days of Christmas gifts and crafts from my sewing and craft room.  Each day, for the next 12 days I will be posting something I have made either for the Gifts and Wishes show at the Coast Collective Gallery (on now until the 21st of December and available for sale there) or as gifts for friends and family.  I hope it gives you some ideas for some last minute Christmas gifts and/or offers inspiration for some fun sewing/crafting time during the holidays.

Don't you just love cupcakes?  This is a little housewarming gift for some friends in  North Carolina who are moving into their new house just before Christmas. 

These potholder/hot pad cupcakes are super easy to put together and hardly take any time at all to make.  If you'd like the pattern, just leave a comment below (and then send me an email... sharonhouse at and I will send it to you.

See you tomorrow,


Get creative with old denim jeans...

I've been having some fun this past week... in all my spare time (what a hoot that is!)...hanging out in my sewing room surrounded by old jeans and bits of fabric!!  I wanted to do something different for a couple friends for Christmas this year and came up with the idea of making some jean aprons.  I only had one pair that I had been saving... the other ones were too far gone to make anything out of... so I paid a trip to the thrift store and bought a couple pair to play with.

They are pretty easy to make... just take some left over material from other projects, old jeans that aren't totally clapped out (grin), some patience, a good iron, a sewing machine,bits of this and that (i.e. buttons, ribbon, old doilies, you get the picture) some more patience and time...  I am rather pleased with how they have turned out so far.  I even made one for the grandson of one of my pool buddies (unfortunately I didn't take a photo of it... just plain forgot!.

This apron has a light blue striped material around the edges and some red polka dot ribbon for "braces".  I raided my button jars and sewed a bunch of red and white buttons on the pocket! Salvage the labels off the jeans... you can use them for decoration too!

This one was a fun one to make with some bandana fabric I bought last summer for another project (which is now not going to happen because it's been confiscated for these aprons... oh well...)  If you want to tackle one like this just make sure you have a good sharp jeans needle in your machine!

This next one is a "shortie"... great for wearing around a barbeque... maybe hubby will get this one under the tree!

And just to show you something you can make with jean "scraps"... here's a table runner... and yes it is straight... it's just the angle that the photo was taken at that makes it look out of "whack"!

Here's another apron... this one with some green polka dot material around the edges, a piece of an old doily and some rick rack...

If you are interested in finding out how to make these... just leave me a comment.  If there is enough interest, I'll write up a small tutorial.

Happy Sewing...