It’s that time of year… Christmas is in the air.

December 24th, 2012 | Comments »

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house…. every creature was stirring and we were all running around and getting ready for the big day.

We thought we’d take a minute today to give you some last minute recipes, wrapping tips and gift ideas for charity.

Let’s start with some last minute wrapping tips; lets remember, it’s the thought that counts- so a little effort goes a long way! We found 10 Christmas gift-wrapping tips courtesy of Ezine @rticles to help you to produce stunningly wrapped Christmas presents we ease and give you relatively no stress.

1) Get a box to keep all your Christmas present wrapping gear in. Scissors, labels, selotape, pens, ribbons and all your other bits and bobs need to be kept all together. This saves time and energy, as you won’t have to go looking for all the tools that you need for the job.

2) Always use a selotape dispenser that can be used with just one hand.
Wrapping Christmas presents can be fiddly and a selotape dispenser males Life easier. Also selotape loses it’s stickiness when it has been previously been stuck on the back of your hand, and the table or on your arm.

3) Prepare your labels well in advance. Making labels from last years old
Christmas cards is environmentally friendly and cost-effective. Cut the card into any shape or size. Use a hole-punch to create a neat hole to thread ribbon on to attach to your gift.

4) Whenever possible, use boxes. Uniform box shapes are easier to wrap than unusual shapes. Traditional box shape presents are also more pleasing to the eye.

5) If you are wrapping an unusual shaped present, don’t try to wrap it with paper because it will be frustrating and will end up looking like one of those ill wrapped disasters that we mentioned earlier. Either buy one of those beautiful metallic gift boxes as they come in assorted shapes and sizes and can be as much appreciated as the gift inside. Alternatively, you can use a gift bag. This is especially great for bottled gifts. Place your gift into the gift bag but before taping the bag closed, cover the top of the gift in streamers. Streamers make your gift fun.

6) Only use enough paper to wrap your Christmas gift. This sounds obvious, however when you get to the end of the roll and the paper is 2 inches too long and too wide don’t cut corners by not trimming off the surplus paper. When you come to folding the ends, if your triangle flaps are so long that they cover the sides and fold onto the base of the present they will give an unloved finish to your present. It’s crisp edges and flat sides will be lost and rounded under a wad of paper, and you will have created an eyesore.

7) Using ribbons can really trim up presents to make them look special.
Ribbons come in selections of colours and widths. When wrapping ribbon around the present use a colour that contrasts and compliments the paper colour and design. Don’t use up leftovers for the sake of it if it doesn’t compliment the package.

The general rule when wrapping the ribbon around the gift is – narrow ribbon can be tied into a knot on the underside of a present, before returning the ribbon round to come back to the top. Wider ribbon on the other hand needs to have a neat 45-degree fold put into it to turn the direction of the ribbon that can be held in place with a small piece of selotape. The fold to turn the ribbon reduces the bulk of a knot would make and it enables you to maintain the top side of ribbon showing, which is especially useful when using metallic ribbon.

8) Ribbon bows, cheaply obtainable form any shop, and as I’m sure you will agree, not very impressive or stylish. Less out dated bows are now available and of course you can curl the ends of the ribbon you wrapped across the blade of a pair of scissors. However, for a more designer look, using twisted stick cut to length from the dried flowers section or sprigs of golly or pieces of ivy. Slip them under the ribbon in the top of the present.

For extra glamour, why not try spray painting with festive metallic paint a couple of days before you need to use them. Copper paint looks particularly festive. You could also sprinkle on a little glitter whilst the paint is still wet to give it a frosty look. If you must use bows, use bows intended for Christmas trees. They have more style than the old tired retro gift bow.

9) Don’t buy cheap poor quality paper. It’s false economy because you have to use more of it. It is so thin you can see the gifts through it, or it rips, not to mention the poor quality designs. It’s much better to buy good quality gift-wrap with a stylish print. You may think that it doesn’t matter because it only ends up in the bin, but remember it sits under someone’s Christmas tree for two weeks first. You don’t want the embarrassment of blighting someone’s Christmas tree with your eyesore!

10) The most important tip of all, Don’t leave the Christmas wrapping until the last minute and don’t try to do it all on the same day. Falling into these traps will be stressful and will leave you with the Christmas wrapping blues. Pace yourself. If you wrap three gifts each day starting on the 1st December, by the 20th of December you will have wrapped 60 Christmas presents, and you will have only taken 45 minutes or so a day. You could even fit it in whilst doing other jobs – running a bath or cooking a meal.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/282254

We talked about a quick and easy recipe, here’s one for the kids to help with courtesy of bbcgoodfood.com

Reindeer Cupcakes 

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line the holes of a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture one at a time. Add half the sifted flours and half the buttermilk, and mix on low speed until just combined. Mix in the remaining flours and buttermilk.
  4. Divide the mix evenly among the paper cases. Gently smooth the tops (this will help the cupcakes to rise evenly).
  5. Bake for 25-30 mins or until lightly golden and cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to stand for 5 mins in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  6. To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a bowl, bring the cream to a simmer and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Cool until firm.
  7. Ice the cupcakes with ganache, then with brown fondant icing. Use the rest of the colours for the ears, eye and nose. Attach ears to the head by pushing a 3cm piece of spaghetti a little way into the ear, then pushing the other end into the head. See below to download more detailed instructions. Remember to warn people that not every element of the decoration is edible!

Finally some ideas for charitable giving this season… if you’re in need of any last minute gifts perhaps giving back is just the ticket!

  • Because I Am a Girl (becauseiamagirl.ca) ~buy a goat for a family in a developing world; or rock a fashionable tee that gives proceeds to help Plan Canada’s overseas efforts.
  • Breakfast for Learning (breakfastforlearning.ca) ~Buy a stylish apron to help feed hungry school kids.
  • Children’s Wish Foundation (childrenswish.ca) ~Help fulfil a special wish for a child with a life-threatening illness.
  • Free the Children (freethechildren.com) ~Donate a medicine kit to a family or grant a loan to help a woman in a developing country start her own business.
  • One Drop (onedrop.org) ~Support easier access to water by making a donation or by purchasing swag such as transparent place mats.
  • Humane Society of Canada (humanesociety.com) Make the animal lover on your list an honorary guardian of a creature in need.
  • Red Cross (redcross.ca) ~Aid disaster relief efforts as home and around the world.
  • Ten Thousand Villages (tenthousandvillages.ca) ~Pick up a Fair Trade paperweight, soap or delicious jam and support artisans around the world.
  • The Hospital for Sick Children (sickkids.ca) ~Make a hospitalized child’s Christmas brighter with decorations for their room or a surprise stocking.
  • World Vision Canada (worldvision.ca) ~Help feed a Canadian family, or give text books to a child on the other side of the world.

10 Holiday Decor Tips from Color Company

November 17th, 2012 | Comments »

It’s that time of year once again; the holidays are upon us and it’s time to get the house into the holiday spirit.  We thought this week we’d focus on a few easy peasy decor tips to get you started for the season! If you have any additional tips we’d love to hear them.

1.  Use lots of candles. Nothing makes a room feel more warm and inviting than the gentle flicker of the candle.

2.  Create an inexpensive family tradition, make sure you involve the whole family. Ex: Purchase ready made wreaths of green and gather knick knacks to decorate them. Pine cones, feathers, rocks, beads, ribbons, paper snow flakes… really anything goes.

3. Bring the scent of the holiday season into your home… make it known it’s time for the holidays. Place potpourri and scented candles near you entry and throughout the house. Try a little baking before guests arrive.

4. Less is more when it comes to decor… however for the holidays, do it up BIG! Now’s the time to have fun with your theme, colour palette or general holiday festiveness.

5.  Coloured lights can get expensive if you change your colour palette year after year… Think white twinkle lights, not only can they be used with any colour theme but white lights are simply CLASSIC.

6.  Although we’re saying do it BIG, we do think that sticking with one theme or style for your holiday season is best.  This not only makes shopping for decor easier, but also gives a professional & polished finish to your space. If you’d like to tackle a couple themes stick to different floors to make this happen.

7.  Be sure to bring your holiday celebrations into every room. A touch here and there, even something small will bring your kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms & foyer to life.

8.  Give your living space a different look and feel for this special time of year. Rearrange your furniture so the focal point is the fireplace… the warmth and centre of the home for the holiday season. If you don’t have a fireplace, arrange the furniture to create the best layout for cozy conversations.

9.  Start investing in a collection- something that can continue to grow throughout the years and that can be passed on to the next generation.  Check out vintage shops for decorations to add to you collection; nut crackers, ornaments, angles, sleighs, snow flakes… anything works and it adds a touch of something special to your home.

10.  Choose two to three colours for your holiday palette and keep it consistent.  Multiple colour palettes can be too distracting… try silver, blue and white with hits of deep purple for some interest. Another great palette is red, gold & brown…try a global feel.

At the end of the day the holidays bring joy to many and defines the season for us. Make sure you have fun and bring a little sparkle to this special time of year!

 

 

Time Management… who needs a lesson?

November 1st, 2012 | Comments »

Can I first start by saying I DO… Where is time going these days? Life is flying by and I feel that with each day more gets piled on our plates and the expectations of our family, work and the home becomes greater and greater. I thought this week we’d look at some simple Time Management skill that will perhaps give us more time with our family or to take on that home decor project we’ve been wanting to tackle.

If you’re working from home with the little ones or a stay at home mom/dad then here are a few tricks:

  1. Create a designated area for work and play. Working from the dinning room table can be distracting if you have children’s toys or media in the area.   Find a place in your home to create a work space. It could be as simple as a small corner in your kitchen or bedroom. Perhaps you have a room not in use… perhaps it’s a catch all for laundry and other household needs. Think outside the box and you’ll come up with a great solution.
  2. Using productivity apps has been known to make the world of difference these days. iPhone or Android… most phones today have great apps to choose from. Appointments, deadlines, school activities can all go into your calendar. Here are a few suggestions on apps to help you organize your life:
    • Awesome Note- organizes all your to do’s and appointments. Colour codes, labels and all…
    • Milebug- Great way to track mileage, parking & tolls
    • Time Log- Managing clients? Exactly what you’re looking for.
    • A Personal Assistant- This app will access and manage all your online accounts in one place.
    • Dragon Dictation- This app converts your voice into text. You can use your voice to send emails, write a text, tweet and even leave yourself notes.
  3. Establish a schedule.  This will help outline school times, pick ups and drop offs, meals, errands, work and even nap time.
  4. Figuring out when your feel most productive is important. Do you get your burst of energy first thing… is it late afternoon or mid morning? Schedule your most important activities/appointments of the day during ‘your peek’ period.
  5. Timer anyone? When you sit down to tackle your task set the timer. (Be sure to turn off Facebook, Twitter & Email so you can concentrate.) Give yourself 15-20 mins or 30 if it’s what you need for the specific task. Once you’re done… cross it off your list.
  6. Identify your daily time wasters.  The key is when you’ve established them can you eliminate them?
  7. Reward yourself! There’s so much to do in todays modern world… work, family, home & day to day life. From time to time you need to stop, take a step back and take some time for you.  Even do something for yourself… this will help to remind you that you are important and you deserve some attention too.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you in managing your day to day life, and the juggling act that so many of us take on. All the best and good luck!