DIY Christmas Ornament Inspirations

We went to check out the Christmas trees on display inside the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. There were so many of them, room after room. The hotel itself is incredible. Details details details...

 I focused on the ceilings, not many people admire ceilings because they are boring, well not these ceilings. Every room was carved wood this and crown mouldings that.

Without getting too carried away with ceilings, here are some DIY inspirations for Christmas ornaments from the many trees on display.


Shadow boxes made from old Christmas cards and Christmas card boxes. And garlands made from wooden beads and spools of thread.

This tree was from Scouts Canada, they had badges, stars made from photos, garlands made from epaulettes, wooden snowflakes, beaded reindeer heads...

On the Grinch Stole Christmas tree, there were painted light bulb characters heads. Clever.

My favourite was the mini terrariums, inside glass ornaments. This tree was very rustic, with burlap garland, mini moss baskets, and sea shells.
I would like to make mini terrariums, but not so practical with children around, these things absolutely cannot be knocked over. Maybe I'll make these in 15 years.

Dining Out: Ulla

We may have a new favourite restaurant on our hands. Sorry RauDZ, it had to happen one day. We will place you in the favourite moderately price category, as for Ulla, it's now a favourite in the higher price category.

It was super dark in there, my only light source for the photos was the rechargeable flameless tea light.
 Therefore I will not make these grainy pictures big.

Perhaps the most interesting dish of the evening, the snails. They didn't even try to make it sound fancy with calling it escargot. They were snails, straight up. And not just any snails, they were wild, then fed on basil for a week. Served with bresaola, panko crumbs, baby arugula, and a basil 'schmear'.
 The snails were completely tasteless, not a trace of basil, but the whole thing was pretty interesting. I haven't had anything weird and crazy like this since, ever. It's not something I would order again, but it was worth the experience.

My favourite of then evening was the lamb special. It came smelling like a good plate of food should. I could bottle it up and sell it. 
 Lamb tenderloin, lamb belly roll with red onion jam, lamb bacon, parsnips, basil dumplings, and the best gnocchi ever. They were light, fluffy, and very potato-ey. I could eat a whole bowl of that, for breakfast.

The squab was the very best also.
 Cooked to a silky tender perfection, the best we've ever had. With brussel sprout leaves, brioche croutons, farrow, and a bunch of other things.

For dessert we had chocolate cake, with rice crispy crunch, dulce de leche cream, and chocolate soil.
 It was a flour-less chocolate cake, more like a truffle chocolate bar. It was rich and creamy.

The other dessert was sous vide apple spheres, genoise cake, green apple sorbet, and vanilla mousse.
What a great combo. When we ordered it we butchered the French, Sous Wide with Gen-noisy cake. Our very low key and friendly waitress let out a high pitched giggle. 

The laid back atmosphere of this place created a very comfortable dining experience. For the price of the food and the creative innovation, it could have gone a very pretentious route. But this is Victoria, after all. Not New York. Therefore, creatively yummy and friendly it will stay, I hope. See you next month, Ulla.

Leco containers

Leco? Isn't it Lego?
If you haven't noticed, we like Lego, very much.
Not made by Lego, but inspired by Lego, these are stackable LECO containers by Flussocreativo.
The are designed to be recycling sorting bins, but I would much rather use them as toy bins in the kiddie room, or a big boy room, aka my husband's, when he eventually gets his own room, a Lego room, to be specific.
All photos from here.

Wrongs and Rights

As for the one nap napping switch up, it took a much bigger toll than we had imagined. Sometimes you just have to make a whole lot of wrongs before things will go right.
This morning the little guy was tired, cranky, more than a little emotional, and became a bit of a frantic destroyer. 
I turn my back on him for a minute and he managed to get himself into all sorts of trouble.
Getting stuck between furniture, hitting his giant noggin on hard surfaces, and favourite book ripped.
Nothing a little tape can't fix, but that page will never be the same. So back down he went for a morning nap to patch up that little tired brain of his. Nothing a little nap can't fix, right? But he didn't nap, he simply stayed in his bed awake, whining for an hour and a half. I guess he's become a one napper after all.

Same goes for me trying to master a rick rack knitting stitch. I'm a beginner at the infancy stage when it comes to knitting, so trying to follow the instructions was as complicated as learning to speak a new language. I'm a visual person, therefore the words in the instructions didn't mean a thing.
Look at how ugly it is at the bottom there. There were many many wrongs before it started to look right. And I also figured out something else, I've been doing my purls wrong all this time! They seemed to be extra twisted and I didn't know why. What happens when there's no one to ask. 

What else to do on such a day? Make something that I know will turn out right the first time around. Apple crisp, that's what. Cannot go wrong with that.

Walking on a Roller Coaster

Today we switched Castle from two naps to one nap. We have dabbled in the one nap territory from time to time, but I think he's big boy enough to handle a whole morning of wakefulness, that and it has taken him a long time to get to sleep at night so we concluded that he is sleeping too much during the day and it is time to make a change.
We will all need to get adjusted to a new schedule now, and me adjusting to one less stretch of down time.

On to the roller coaster thing... ...

So this outdoor sculpture is so super cool, I think it tops the last one I saw by about 1000 times. Unfortunately, I don't get to see this in person. You lucky Germans, you.
Designed by Heike Mutter & Ulrich Genth, it's called Tiger & Turtle - Magic Mountain, how appropriate. To read all about it, and to where the photos are from (plus many others), go here.

Christmas Carol Garland

Keeping up with the sans red and green Christmas theme...
A Christmas Carol Garland for the little white flocked tree.

This is a mini version of the garlands from my 30th birthday party.
Those are cut out letters taped onto fishing line. We have an abundance of yellow card stock, left over from our wedding invites. Good thing I LOVE yellow.

Here's how to make a mini version, with a tab, so it looks better close up, without seeing tape at the top.

Cut card stock to the height of the letters you want, plus a little bit more to form the tabs at the top, score and fold the tab. This is how you keep your letters the same height.

I like to cut my letters free hand, but you can also drawn on your letters first.
Or, if you are not confident with your typography skills, use the whole sheet of card stock to print letters on with your computer, or use your fancy personal cutting machine.

I don't have a fancy cutting machine, so by hand it is. Makes it look more rustic. :P

Joy to the World... ...

Glue letters to string.

Fold tab over string as you glue.

It's not that hard but if you are going to do a whole carol it may take a while.

I only did three lines of the carol.

Now every time I look at the tree, I think of Joy to the World, it's a grand Christmas carol, I love the first three lines, it is truly what Christmas is all about.

Sans Red & Green

As much as I would like to have my way of everything white - white floors, white couch, white chair, white christmas tree, white stockings... ... I have, instead, succumbed to nature. We are just not of that sort, it is against our inner desires. 

We are a colourful bunch, truly to the core. We like bright and bold, and most of all, we enjoy any and every colour but red and green at Christmas.
Felt letters went on the stockings, now we know which is which, or who's is who's.

When did lions and zebras started showing up at the birth of baby Jesus?
Andrew decided to add animals from Noah's ark to the nativity, one animal per day to see how long it will take me to notice. It took three days, zebra, lion and elephant. He said Noah was going to be next. That would have been interesting, Noah at the birth of baby Jesus.

Six Pointed Paper Snowflakes

I have decided that I'm going to bring back all the simple fun things I used to do when I was a kid around Christmas time. This one is great because it involves a sense of mystery. I'm sure we've all made paper snowflakes at one time or another but I will share how I make a six-pointed paper snowflake. 

Six-pointed, or a hexagon, is very important in snowflake making because that is how they are found in nature. Geeky, yes. But it does make them appear more snowflake-like, rather than a square with holes cut out of it.

A real snowflake, photo from here.
Start with a square piece of paper. (I know the paper below is not a square, but that is how you make a square from a rectangle.)

Fold point to opposite point into a triangle.

Fold point to opposite point again, to make a smaller triangle.

Take top piece and fold back, at an angle of 30 degrees, or what I do is estimate, then even it out on the next fold.

Fold back to match the edges, adjust your fold so they are equal.

Flip the whole thing over.

And do the same thing as before to this side.

The folding part is complete, now, draw on your design, or just start cutting free hand. To get a six point snowflake, one edge of your design should be higher than the other.

Snip snip snip away.

This is my favourite part, the unfolding. Because you never know how it's going to turn out.

Here's an other one.

One more.
 This one was more intricate, so I used a craft knife instead of scissors.

I love the giggly feeling I get when I unfold these, the excitement of seeing what they look like.

Other than putting them up on your window or Christmas tree, try sticking them on card stock to make Christmas cards, or use them to decorate presents.
Let it snow(flake).
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