Imagine That: No-Bake Gingerbread House Banner

In The Studio

The color of the month over on the Imagine blog is Gingerbread and the idea that wouldn’t leave my mind was gingerbread houses.

Basically, this project has all the fun of decorating gingerbread houses/cookies without having to clean up the kitchen. It’s fabulous for crafting with kids, and the sky’s the limit on how much or how little you want to decorate the houses.

Using chipboard or craft cardstock and whatever house die or cut file you want takes care of the base of the banner, getting you closer to the the real fun that much sooner.

And here’s something I’ve learned about working with the Cotton White StazOn Studio Glaze: you can’t be stingy if you actually want it to show up as white rather than clear. Let the Cotton White build up or go back and add a second layer, if need be, especially against dark backgrounds. And layering one color of StazOn Studio Glaze over another while both are still wet works just like layering royal icing on cookies–beautifully!

Make sure to head over to the Imagine blog to see the video of how this project comes together!

Imagine That: Naughty or Nice Reversible Stocking

In The Studio

Shall I add another voice onto the fire of “where did the year go” lamentations? I suppose I shall–dude, this year is flying by! I have no idea where it went and not nearly as much as I would have liked to show for it, but I have a cute craft today that can help get you on the way to holiday preparedness.

Two sides of the same stocking–which side you flip is between you and Santa!

Holiday prep was another of our prompts and, combined with the color of the month (Sangria), I decided to go with a classic Christmas stocking with a twist. One side of the linen cuff reads Naughty, with some prickly holly leaves, while the other says Nice, paired with a pair of pretty poinsettias. Both feature a bit of heat embossing, which is the real highlight of this project (I think).

In preparation, I tested several Imagine mediums to see which would give me the result I wanted.

  • Versamark (pad and marker): definitely held the embossing powder but became part of the fabric rather than sitting up on top like heat embossing on paper.
  • Delicata (and other pigment inks): Also sunk into the fabric a bit more than I wanted, wicking through the fibers in some cases–this was problematic for details.
  • Creative Medium: Great through a stencil but I think you’d really need a good mask (like freezer paper ironed-on) to hold the integrity of finer details in a design. Did maintain it’s raised quality after heating.
  • On Point Glue: Perfect for fine details! This was what I used to embellish the Memento Marker and All-Purpose Ink words and art on my stockings.

Because of the heat embossing, you definitely want to make sure the fabric you’re decorating can take the heat without melting. Mine was felt (wool felt) and linen and I made it specifically for this project. If you’re purchasing one to decorate, make sure you test in an inconspicuous place before starting.

The full process can be seen in the video over on the Imagine blog!

A Tree for Every Room: Gilded Dining Room Tree

In The Studio


Last year I had a goal to really do up the house for Christmas, including (as the title suggests) a decorated tree for each room. Between a convention in Mississippi in the middle the month and sheer end of the year exhaustion, it didn’t happen. I got 2 trees decorated and Todd put the lights on the big tree on the landing, but that’s as far as I got.

I did, however, order supplies for the dining room tree, so I was set to get started this year! Over on the Helmar blog I have step-by-step instructions of how I made the kitchen-themed garland for the centerpiece of my tablescape. Here’s the rest of the story, as it were.

I started with a simple artificial tree from Big Lots. It was the right size, but it was green, and the picture in my head was of a white and gold scene. So I used a tip from Jen over at EPBOT to flock our tree with spackling. Only thing was, all the spackle we could find was the heavier stuff, but there was spray spackle on the shelf and we decided to give that a shot. It worked perfectly and didn’t even take a full bottle to cover the little tree. If I find the second tree we bought (but is currently buried in the Christmas closet) it will be no problem to do it up as well.

Once flocked and the garland made, it was time to add a few more items. I didn’t want to overwhelm the tiny tree, so I added a single strand of white LED lights and a strand of small pearls to balance the heavier wood and gold garland. And it’s the dining room, it’s okay to dress up!


Finally, I made some ornaments from a set of metal chocolate molds. I used an awl to punch small holes in the top and bottom of each mold and wired a loop at the top with gold wire to attach a hook. From the bottom hangs a large faux pearl.

I still need more to really fill out the tablescape–one tree isn’t going to cut it–but for now this is a really good start. I love seeing the tree on our dining room table when I walk through the room and I’m really excited to go get our big tree for upstairs this weekend!


How to Hang Outdoor Wreaths Without a Ladder

The Gingerbread Diaries

One of the many awesome things about the Dollhouse is that it gives us these great windows to decorate. Since I’m so used to living in apartments or single-story homes with porches that obscure windows and doors (great for keeping the house cool, not so great for decorating), having that row of upstairs windows is still kind of novel for me. And I knew without question that I wanted wreaths for the windows for Christmas.

Don't mind the bare center window--the upstairs tree will shine through it at night!

Don’t mind the bare center window–the upstairs tree will shine through it at night!

The question was, how to hang them?

There are plenty of instructions for double-hung windows that involve lowering the top sash, but ours are the old single-hung type. There’s always the “direct” route involving the porch roof and maybe a ladder besides, but I wasn’t keen on the danger element, there (and this was months before Todd and ladder disagreed and he ended up with plates in his wrist, no way we’d go that route now!). So what to do?

Necessity is the mother of invention, after all, so this is how we hung our Christmas wreaths on those upper windows (pictures from last year). If you’ve faced a similar quandary, allow me to solve that for you!

What you’ll need:

  • Wreaths of your choice (I got these 24″ wreathes from Walmart, again, last year, for only 3.98 each and the bows from the Dollar Tree–both held up great)
  • Tulle or some other sort of sturdy mesh material (thin is important here, you’ll see why)
  • Cup hooks
  • A wire coat-hanger
  • A helper
You can tell this was taken in 2014, the hallway still has its wallpaper!

You can tell this was taken in 2014, the hallway still has its wallpaper!

So start out by fluffing out and decorating your wreaths as necessary. The fluffing is mandatory for most artificial wreaths as they’re quite squished and can look pretty anemic when first purchased. I chose to go with simple red bows and nothing else because it presents the highest contrast and is less likely to get damaged by the elements. Tie a fairly long loop of tulle or netting to the top of each wreath.

While I suppose you could anchor the wreaths to the window latch, it didn't sound like a good option long-term.

While I suppose you could anchor the wreaths to the window latch, it didn’t sound like a good option long-term. Cup hooks are cheap and it’s not going to compromise the window frame.

Screw a cup hook (hook facing down) to the center-top of the lower window sash, on the inside of the house. This will be your anchor.

Now we're getting somewhere!

Now we’re getting somewhere!

Straighten out the coat hanger except for the top hook. Now, open the window about 6-8 inches or so, just enough to let the wreath pass through when flat. (Oh, you’re going to need to remove the screens for this to work, too. Most of our upstairs windows don’t have screens, so it’s not really an issue for us.) Slip the coat hanger, hook-down, behind the lower window sash–it helps if your helper is tall–and between where the two sashes pass.

We practiced on the downstairs window, just in case...

We practiced on the downstairs window, just in case…

Hook the tulle onto the coat hanger and have your helper carefully pull the hook up and through the gap between the window panes while you guide the wreath safely through the open window gap. It’s worth noting that our windows are 70-some-odd inches high, making each half more than a yard tall. If your windows aren’t so lofty and you have reasonably long arms, you might be able to do this without a helper.

And there you go! One safely hung wreath!

And there you go! One safely hung wreath!

Close the window, sandwiching the tulle between where the sashes overlap (the tulle compresses enough that there’s not a big gap for air to seep in or out), position the wreath roughly in the horizontal and vertical center of the lower sash, and wrap the tulle several times around the cup hook to secure it, finishing with a slip knot.

Tadaa! You have now hung your exterior wreaths without risk of life or limb.

You can't see the wreaths, but you can see the lit Christmas tree upstairs.

You can’t see the wreaths, but you can see the lit Christmas tree upstairs.

We’re looking forward to getting our tree this weekend and I’m sure the outdoor decorations will be coming out as well! We kept the unbent coat hanger in the closet with the rest of the decorations just so we wouldn’t have to hunt up another one!

Do you decorate your windows for the holidays?


The Abyss Has Been All Topsy-Turvy This Month!

In The Studio

And it’ll probably stay that way for a little while longer–there’s just so much going on!

At the beginning of the month, the first of my two Helmar projects went up: a trio of fabric-covered tombstones.


And then today, book-ending the month, my second Halloween project is live on Helmar, this time a quick pedestal project.


Also at the beginning of the month, the FACES exhibit for the local Artist Collective opened at Grassroots Coffee here in Thomasville. We attended the opening night reception on First Friday and then went out to supper with friends who came up from Tallahassee. It may seem like a little thing, but it felt pretty big as it was the first Collective show I’ve had a piece in.


The Clock Has Many Faces by Jennifer “Scraps” Vanderbeek | mixed media on canvas 10″x10″

The exhibit runs through the beginning of January. The next theme is still life… not sure how I’ll approach that one, but it’ll be a fun challenge.

Of course there was the whole process of getting the house ready for Halloween, but I’ve also been a bit preoccupied getting the new Creative Mischief Kits ready to go. We had a slight delay from one of the paper manufacturers, but everything’s in and the two card kits are now ready to ship!

CPR Holidays Winter Whimsy Kit

CPR Holidays Winter Whimsy Kit

CPR Holidays Classic Christmas Kit

CPR Holidays Classic Christmas Kit

The CPR in the titles stands for “Cards Prepared & Ready,” an idea I had many years ago about simplifying the process of sending handmade cards by batching them up together. These are holiday kits, of course, with enough supplies to make 20 cards in each. You can find more about them and place your order at

Finally, I’ve been working on my Halloween costume for this year. I can’t remember if I mentioned it before or not, but we decided to go as Wreck It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz this year.

Finding a pullover with both pocket and hood (when I would otherwise want neither) in the right color and size was a bit like searching for a teal unicorn. But I think my semi-DIY will do nicely!

I had to convert a long-sleeved hooded t-shirt into Vanellope’s hoodie by trimming off the bottom 6″ or so, adding elastic along the new hem to get it into shape, and then using the cut-off area to create the kangaroo pocket in the front. I finished it off with some hot-pink paracord to match the details on her hoodie.

Just needs the small "double stripe" on the one leg and I can call these done.

Just needs the small “double stripe” on the one leg and I can call these done.

I’ve almost finished painting the white tights I purchased to match the character design–I took a tip from a costume Instructable about cutting out leg-ish shapes from cardboard to act as forms for the tights while they’re being painted. So far it seems to be working just fine.

The one thing I haven’t started on, yet, is the candy scatter for my hair. I have everything I need for it, I just haven’t had a chance to put them together. I’ll definitely have it done by Halloween, but the scatter might be a bit sparse for the party tomorrow night–depends on how much I get done on my lunch break today!

Those slippers are super creepy to me. Anyone else?

Those slippers are super creepy to me. Anyone else?

For Todd’s part he’s been letting his hair get shaggy and even extending his sideburns to look more like Ralph. He bought a pair of brown overalls, a red v-neck tee, and a pair of really creepy barefoot “slippers” since Ralph doesn’t wear shoes. For the larger-than-life hands, he found a pair of Hulk hands on eBay for a good price and painted them a flesh tone. He’s planning to wrap his forearms with ace bandages over some sort of padding to bulk up a bit. We also have a heart-shaped cookie medal in the works for him.

I’ll be sure to have someone take our picture tomorrow night to show you how it all turned out!