January is National Letter Writing Month

Grab your quills! January is National Letter Writing Month and the perfect time to catch up on your correspondence. For those of you who missed out on making those holiday connections, leave it to January to give you another chance.

And if that’s not reason enough, do it for the stamp. Check out this knock out design (Love: King and Queen of Hearts). Order yours now in preparation for Valentines Day.

Love: King and Queen of Hearts Stamp
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To promote National Letter Writing Month, all TLC card sets and special orders are 25% off this month when you order through us directly!

And the Winner Is…

Thank you to everyone who sent in stories of their most memorable handmade gift, given or received. There were a few tear jerkers in there. TLC enlisted fellow artist and friend, Abbie Brandao, to make the final decision. Come Christmas morning, Jana Beznoskova was notified that her entry was selected! Congratulations Jana. What a wonderful secret to let loose. We can’t wait to begin.

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Read the Contest Post

Read Jana’s entry > For our wedding anniversary I wanted to give Zach something what would be a cotton but also what he would carry with him and think about me. So I bought cotton boxer shorts and cotton thread. For a few weeks before our anniversary date I secretly embroidered those boxers with his initials. I used different colors and fonts on each pair. When he received the present he was nicely surprised and touched. I know that he likes them because 4 years later I see those boxers every week in our laundry basket. It was a personal present nobody knew about until now. But what I would not do for winning the competition, when the prize is so great. I am revealing a little family secret. Merry Christmas.

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Custom Photo Tree Detail

Read the runners up >

Cindy | When the holiday season comes around it is always so commercial. Green sprayed Chrismas trees not to mention the artificial ones. All the must-have electronic treats. Then a number of years ago when our small chrildren were growing up, my husband and I decided that we had had enough of all the rush-rush and commercialism of the holiday, so we decided to slow things down and help our family respect the reason and the beauty of the holiday – kind of pure it down, so to speak.

All of our children were very young, so we made the decision to keep Christmas simple. We would require each gift that was given to be handmade. Use your imagination. And the gifts we all received were beautiful, thoughtful and reflected the heart of the gifter. I will never forget that beautiful holiday. There was one gift that stands out in my mind. It was a simple small gift from my smallest child Ashley. She was only three or four years old, and what she made me was the most heart melting gift that anyone could have created. She took some paper and drew simple holiday characters with her crayons like Christmas Santas and little elves and stapled them together front and back and then stuffed them with cotton balls. These tiny little images with smiles on their faces and bright blue eyes just walked into to my heart. That is what I really remember about Christmas were those simple days and simple gifts. Why do we need to lose sight of this special day?

Photo5e_Hand Made Crafts Photo Tree
Custom Photo Tree Detail

Charles | Since I was very young, my sister had been doodling on anything she could get her hands on with any medium available. I remember she had a particular liking for cats. Drawing her cartoony cats over and over again they began to take shape. As she continued to draw throughout the years; she, as any great artist, began to develop her own unique style in everything she created. It was great to see her talent grow. Seemingly limitless creativity I could never hope to approach. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. At which point her creative juices would start to boil over as she worked many artistic escapades at the same time. Come Christmas morning, I must admit now that the gifts I looked forward to most were from her. Always hand made, always incredibly unique.

They began simple: drawings of cats folded into Christmas cards. But as she continued to mature, her thirst to challenge her creative bounds grew. Cards, paintings, sculptures, poems, the list is as long as our Christmases were shared. Each piece I accepted and studied. Trying to understand how her brain worked. Being musically inclined myself, my understanding of artistic expression required a tuba, a trumpet, a piano, but any attempt I had ever made with ink, oil or paint yielded a laughable product.

Now my sister and I are grown. She keeps after her art while teaching elementary school in Houston. It’s now, in this magical time of year that Christmas takes on a very different meaning. The memories of waking up at 4:30 in the morning, running downstairs and looking at the gifts are just that. Memories. Just being together in the same house, under the same roof means the most to not just my parents anymore but us kids also. Cliché sayings are many things. Over-used, corny, cheesy, they can be agonizing to hear. Mostly though, they’re true. I could never understand why at every family reunion, every thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, every birthday, my parents and their parents were most thankful for each other. For our health. These lessons seem to be reserved for the age of your first holiday away from you family. When you stray from the religious normalcy of thanksgiving at grandma’s, or Christmas in Tahiti (which would be sweet. We did not do that). I’ve felt the quiet, gripping anxiety take me suggesting that my childhood may, in fact, be coming to a close.

For these reasons, taking the time to create your own gifts for your loved ones becomes increasingly valuable. Cards are wonderful bought from a store, but how often can you look someone in the face and actually tell them how you feel? Speaking in the moment, expecting to gather the words to describe your passion, your love, your appreciation is hit or miss. And I’m betting you will miss. Humans are capable of wonderful creativity. Take a moment, dim the lights, play some music and get back in touch with what you are thankful for. My sister never spent a Christmas thinking about herself. Take the time thinking about the people in your life and dig up your best cliché garbage. I always feel so special, loved and fortunate to receive these words.

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Thanks again for all the entries. And send us pictures of your handmade gems from this season!

Win a Custom Photo Tree!

The Lead Chandelier is a busy place in the winter months. And all that eggnog puts us in the holiday spirit. To prove it, we’d like to give you a little present. (Can you believe it?! Please do, we’re serious.)

Win a Custom Photo Tree!

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Read the Original Post

How do you win? Tell us about your most memorable handmade gift, given or received. That’s it. Send it in a note, a poem, photos, anything, be creative! (Use our form or send us an email.) We’ll review the submissions by midnight, Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning, we’ll notify the lucky winner! (I told you. We really do love you!)

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Feel free to spread the word (Or, keep it to yourself…Ebenezer.)
Questions? Let us know! Thanks again for your support!

DIY: Edible Christmas Crafts

Every December, my twin sister, mom and I gather around the kitchen counter to create delicious edible Christmas crafts, most notably, Apple Santas, lovingly featured on The Estate of Things last December. Now in my own home, I do what I can to revisit these traditions with more modern materials and new ideas in order to create my own home grown traditions.

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Rudolf Waits for Santa

This year, couple your Jolly ‘Ol Elf with his favorite pal, Rudolf the Red Nosed Rein-Pear. (He’s adorable and a fairly easy Christmas craft to make.) Here’s how.

You’ll need 1 large brown pear (try to find one whose top turns up when you lay it on its side), 6 toothpicks (for a nose, a tail and four legs), 2 pieces of grape vine (for Rudolf’s antlers – green grapes work best because of their thick vines), 2 cloves (for Rudolf’s eyes), small gum drops (for a nose, a tail, legs and hoofs – yellow, white, black and red work best).

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Cupboard Crafts

Ready? Me too. Remove the pear’s stem and stick toothpicks in the location of Rudolf’s legs. Slide 2 small yellow gum drops and one black drop onto each toothpick leg (all the way to the pear – round side out). Stick a toothpick into the base (tail) of the pear and afix half a yellow gumdrop for his tail (cut the long way). On the top of the pear where you removed the stem, stick in the final toothpick and slide 1 red gumdrop on for his nose! Stick 2 clove eyes into Rudolf’s head and your masterpiece is complete!

Place Rudolf in a Winter Wonderland of Little Debbie Christmas Trees or create a forest of 3D Christmas tree cookies for him to frolic in.

Having a party? Invite the whole gang – Make Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blixen too. Send TLC your pictures. We’d love to see your work. For more Rudolf pics, click here.

DIY: Custom Photo Tree

This past year, my sister was married and I found myself happily at her side creating original decorations for every nuptial event. Remembering a simple grade school project, where a dot of ink grew into wonderful, delicate twisting branches, I developed the custom photo tree. This unique gift was the perfect way to capture my sister’s wedding and its handmade charm.

Create your own custom photo tree as a holiday gift, to document your wedding, a baby’s first year, anniversary or other occasion. Combine photos, card remnants and rubber stamped leaves and blossoms to complete an original wall piece unique to your event.

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Final Custom Photo Tree

You’ll need several sheets of 11×17″ printer friendly watercolor paper, black India ink, a drinking straw (cut to 4″), several (25+) digital photo files sized for print, .75 & 1″ hole punches, old invitations or decorative card stock, double sided tape & foam tape, leaf rubber stamps (TLC shows you how), pencil with rubber eraser and rubber stamp ink pads.

Create the tree that will hold your story. Check out our how to or skip the hassle and purchase a starter tree from our store. Edit your photos and punch perfect little photo circles. (Cut out your invitation fragments using the larger punch.)

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Edit Your Photos

Once you have prepared all the pieces for the final design. Gather rubber stamps and ink. On a scrap piece of paper, test your stamps for the best color combination. You can even match your tree to the event’s season! Begin laying your photos and cut outs on the branches until you’ve established a layout you’re comfortable with. DO NOT affix any items yet. Once you’ve decided the locations your photos and cut outs will bloom, start to tape them in place making sure you alternate between two sided tape and foam tape for added dimension. Next, begin to fill empty areas with leaves of various colors and sizes.

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Assemble Your Unique Creation

Prepare yourself as you will certainly receive loads of compliments for having constructed such an original piece. Congratulations!

For a full tutorial or if you have questions along the way, just ask. Find more photos here.

(Save time by ordering a premade tree or let TLC create the treasure for you.)

Even Gmail Licks a Stamp Occassionally

In a previous post, we discussed how a note can, “change your outlook on the day in just a few words.” With the holidays just around the corner, think about tucking a note in a mitten, dropping a card in the mailbox or fastening a message to a gift. Even email giant, Gmail, sees the value in occasionally licking a stamp.

hand made crafts,DIY Crafts
Send a free postcard, on Google!

Start spreading cheer!

hand made crafts,DIY Crafts

DIY: Thanksgiving Leftovers Empanadas

This year, I hosted my very first Thanksgiving! Great company and recipes from friends and family new and old. I thrive on hectic – so this is my kind of holiday.

Now, with the big day gone and a refrigerator full of leftovers, comes creativity. For me, this means Leftovers Empanadas. The idea struck me about a month ago when hosting a dinner party. It’s easy, it’s fried and it’s delicious.

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Toss diced turkey, ham, stuffing, green beans and any other leftover dish in a pan until warm. Cut approx. 3 inch circles out of store bought puff pastry. Fill with warmed leftovers and pinch closed to make a half moon. Drop in hot oil until brown flipping once to fully cook. Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce. Die happy. I cannot express how perfect and simple these treats are. If it’s not too late, give it a try.

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Got your own ideas? Shoot em my way – I still have a fridge stocked with possibilities!

Holiday in the City

In response to, LA Foodie, Drew’s dilemma, “how does a city-dweller forage?,” TLC got together to come up with some city wreaths. When nature is not at your door, there’s always food. Here are three ideas to help you stay festive in Tinsel Town.

Forage your kitchen cupboards for coffee beans, pepper corns, star anise, cinnamon sticks, bay leafs, all sorts of spices with wonderful shapes and scents. Be creative. Visit a local candy shop for gumdrops and ribbon candies. When your neighbors aren’t looking, grab lemons and oranges from their boughs. With these items, create bright holiday wreaths unique to your environment like the examples below.

Spices:
hand made crafts,holiday wreaths,herb wreath,wreath crafts,DIY Crafts
Herb Wreath, Star Anise Wreath

Candies:
hand made crafts,candy wreaths,holiday wreaths,wreath crafts,holiday christmas wreaths,DIY Crafts
Peppermint Wreath, Hard Candies

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Gumdrop Wreath, Hard Candy Wreath

Fruits:
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Lemon Wreath, Apple Wreath

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Potato Wreath, Oranges Wreath

Create the wreaths above, make lots of ornaments for your tree, or group these bursts of color in glass bowls around the house for easy holiday charm.

Imagination Required

Here’s an email I received from my good friend, Nails. Not only is she beautiful, she also delivers one gem of an imagination booster – sidewalk chalk wonderlands. She connects with her daughter using this skill and they’ve come up with some fantastic worlds of imagination.

Reading her note, I can’t help but be reminded of the playful photo collection by Jan Von Holleben of Germany, Dreams of Flying. Read on to find your inspiration…

hand made crafts,sidewalk chalk crafts,craft ideas,sidewalk chalk ideas,DIY Crafts
Peter Pan and Tinkerbell

Love the site, Bregan! Arts & Crafts are a big deal in my house. I don’t play with dolls or transformers, so if Sky wants to kick it with mommy, that means we’re makin’ something. When she was just a baby I started by sitting her on my lap and holding a crayon in her hand. We’d sit and draw multi-colored circles together. Then she would sit and watch while I turned them into various creatures and objects.

sidewalk chalk ideas,hand made crafts,sidewalk chalk crafts,craft ideas,DIY Crafts
The Rocketteers

Mommy also doesn’t do tag or any such running sports, so one of our favorite outdoor pastimes is to do sidewalk chalk outlines of each other. Then we turn our shapes into fairies and make giant gardens all around them.

4 year olds are pretty easy to please when they’re making a mess. I keep us stocked in plain ol’ construction paper, paints, white glue and vials of glitter. Throw in some scissors and the possibilities are endless.

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The Superman

My dream is to have a studio of my own where I can add clay, a potters wheel, a kiln, canvas, glass and other such things to our arsenal. But to tell you the truth, making ‘kid stuff’ with Skylar is one of my favorite things to do. Sure it’s all very silly and only lasts through the next rain or as long as it survives on the refrigerator, but those activities still serve as a creative outlet for me too.

I have no idea who my daughter will be when she’s all grown up (though I have a few suspicions), but creativity is in her blood and something tells me that’s something we’ll always have in common.
It sounds like you share that with your mother as well.

Much love
~N

Let us know what unique crafts you’ve come up with – with your kids or on your own.

Thanksgiving Crafts Kick Off the Holidays

My creative ambition is from both my parents. But, my unparalleled love for the holidays is from my mother, specifically. For her, the holiday season started with the first fall breeze and continued well into the new year.

Please welcome TLC’s newest contributer and my ridiculously well-spoken mommy, Cindy Hubbard. If this doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, you’re on your own.

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Dr Delphinium, aliedwards.com

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it means the first snow in KC – or at least cool crisp weather – the first sign that Christmas is on its way. For me, Thanksgiving is a no pressure holiday. Just a marvelous family gathering, wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen and a warm fire glowing to clothe the chill.

After Halloween I save all of my pumpkins and gourds for Thanksgiving decorations. Thanksgiving is Act 1 of the Christmas play – and what a wonderful beginning, what a way to introduce this joyous holiday (and it truly is joyous for me – from the first unpacking of my little treasures stored in the basement to decorate the house).

Decorating for the holidays is not a task. It is the beginning of a wonderful holiday surprise that kicks off my holiday celebration. For me, decorating for Christmas is as delightful as when Christmas morning arrives. Every container, brought up from the basement, is a glorious surprise – a happy reminder of what the last joyous seasons have brought. When I open up each container, I say to myself, “Oh, I just love this.” It’s like recycling a little surprise gift. Decorating for the holidays, for me, is a special Christmas gift that starts the season.

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Good Housekeeping, Crate and Barrel, Wreath Works

On Thanksgiving I forage my backyard for natural decorations – maybe a long walk in the neighborhood to find special prizes like pine cones, leaves, bird feathers. But it’s the backyard that offers the most precious gifts that become my old grapevine wreath.

I used the soft pliable vines to shape the wreath and twisted sprigs of bushes with bright red berries along with special fuzzy weeds and pine cones. A delicate birds nest lost by our big tree from a storm is nestled in the wreath just above its curve holding a couple of bright feathers in its bed – just perfect. I let it dry and added other decorations from outside.

Thanksgiving started my backyard nature collecting for the holidays: wreaths, fresh cut branches from trees, everything beautiful that nature offers us for free during our quiet trip outside. It’s just magic. And it turns your home into a wonderland of natural discovery.

What natural decorations do you love?

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