Monday, December 19, 2011

Made By You Monday

Just 5 more days for Christmas Eve and less that two weeks to welcome a New Year…
Can you believe that 2012 is almost here?

This being a super busy week for everyone, I thought I would look ahead a couple of weeks towards New Years Eve.  Some of us will be going to parties, some of will be hosting parties, and some of us will be relaxing at home.  

Well the wonderful folks at The 36th Avenue have a great little DIY idea that I just had to share.  Enjoy!

New Years Eve is a HUGE day for our family!
For me it is perhaps one of the most exciting days of the year.
{ At the end of this post I will explain more thoroughly why}
With the 31st approaching so rapidly I thought to share with you today our
2012 New Year’s Kit! 
The Theme!
Every year on New Year’s Eve each member of our family gives a prediction of the new coming year.
Then we write each of them down and see who predicted the previous year more accurately.
This New year’s Eve we are not doing just that but we have chosen a theme for 2012…
…dream BIG!
So of course I had to make a reminder of our theme.
I decided to make this clay keepsake… I think this same technique could be used to make adorable custom  gift tags.
It took me less than 5 minutes to make six of them.
It is so simple that the pictures are self explanatory.
{ 1. make a ball  2. roll it  5. stamp it  7. cut it out  10. use a straw to make a hole  11. let it air dry }
Here is a closer look!
The little pieces of paper are to write our BIG dreams for the coming year….
The second thing I did to keep the theme alive during the year is a keepsake box for each member of our family…
kind of like a time capsule.
 { You are going to see a lot of these tin boxes after Christmas for sale all over the place }
The size was perfect… I knew my Saydi would love the red so the only thing I changed was the lid.
I traced a circle on a piece of paper using the lid as a template and then I cut it.
The next step involved Mod Podge.
Make sure you are generous with the amount of Mod Podge.
If you never have done it before trust me it is so simple to do.
Brush the top of your surface with a generous coat of Mod Podge. Then add your paper or fabric and cover the top of it with more Mod podge.
To prevent bubbles I always use my fingers, it helps me to press along the sides and make the final project look as close to perfect as I can.
I added some ribbon to the outside border of the lid and I finished covering the connection of both ends of the ribbon with a button.
 Super easy and cute!

Then for the final touch I added some vinyl to the tin container and a I dropped a piece of craft paper in the inside of it…
The little punch of color inside makes it fun to look at!

Here you have it!
 For me New Years Eve is like a big Birthday Party.
Literally I look at it as a New Year has been born and we get to see it!
In many European countries the Christmas Season doesn’t end until January 6th { Epiphany } when the Three Wise Men visit our homes and bring us presents.
New Years to us is part of The Christmas Season.
 The lights are up, the Christmas music keeps playing, the Christmas treats keep coming. 
I have celebrated New Years since I was in my mothers womb.
Particularly in Spain we have a tradition that dates back from at least 1895 but became consolidated in 1909.
In December of that year, some Alicantines { some of the coolest people you will ever meet } vine growers popularized this custom to better sell huge amounts of grapes from an excellent harvest.
The tradition consists in eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st.
According to the tradition, that leads to a year of prosperity and your wish will come true if you manage to have all twelve grapes in your mouth by the 12th second of the new year.
Each grape is eaten with each strike of the bell.
The twelve grapes are linked to the Puerta del Sol tower clock, where this tradition started and from where the change of year is always broadcast.
Now that I am miles away from that bell I get to celebrate New Years twice; one through Skype with my family over seas
and the other one eight hours later here with my four kids and sweet husband at home.
I am so lucky!
I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of our 2012 New Year’s Kit and some more sharing of our family traditions…
I love the Holiday Season!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

MMMMM Thursday Thanks to the Traveling Spoon

Those wonderful folks at the Traveling spoon sure know how to get my attention, with yummies, and for that I say Thank you!

 Seven Layer (Magic) Bars (12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies - Week 10)

After weeks of sharing the Christmas baking traditions of my family for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies Blog Hop (including our favorite Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread, our unique Czech Sugar Cookies, and the Famous Levain Chocolate Chip Cookie Copycat) it finally occurred to me to ask Matthew if he had any traditions that he felt I should represent.

Apart from his mother's Death by Chocolate - a rich confection of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, chocolate chips and whipped cream - Matt requested these gooey, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bars that he calls Seven Layer Magic Bars. You might know them as Seven Layer Bars, Hello Dolly Bars or Magic Bars, but whatever the name, they're shockingly sweet and indulgently delicious.

I can remember having these once or twice during my childhood, but since desserts didn't last long in our full household and the ingredients for this one were pricey, it never became a regular fixture. I didn't mourn its absence too much, given the whole host of recipes that were family favorites, but I always made a beeline for this gooey treat at any church potluck or party.

When Matt suggested I make these bars for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies weekly party, I knew they would be perfect to take to our family Thanksgiving in Chicago. There, they were a welcome addition to the dessert tray (which included a few varieties of cookies, my aunt's Chocolate Creme Pie, and a Pumpkin Crunch Cake), but they were an absolute revelation to my sister's in-laws, who had traveled all the way from England to meet their new grandson.

Desserts in England are rarely so sweet, and with a buttery graham cracker crust, an intensely flavored center of coconut, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk, and a crunchy topping of chopped nuts and toffee pieces, these are decadent even by American standards!

Seven-Layer-Magic-Hello-Dolly Bars
these bars are an 'amped-up' version of the Eagle Brand recipe

3/4 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups graham crackers, crushed by hand
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Heath or English toffee bits (or butterscotch chips)
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9x13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and place an opened can of sweetened condensed milk in the hot water. Heat until milk becomes runny and can be easily poured. Pour half of the sweetened condensed milk over the prepared crust, reserving the remaining milk to top the bars before baking.

Layer the chocolate chips, coconut and nuts evenly over the crust. Sprinkle with toffee pieces and pour the remaining condensed milk over all (it may be necessary to reheat the milk gently for easier pouring). Bake 20-25 minutes or until bars appear 'set' and lightly browned. Cool completely before serving. Cut into small squares or diamonds (a little goes a long way with these!) and store, covered, at room temperature.

A few notes: Apart from over baking, it's hard to imagine a way in which these versatile bars could go wrong. The list of ingredients is extremely flexible (I substituted Heath pieces for butterscotch chips with great success - though if you use the butterscotch, I'd recommend reducing the chocolate chips to prevent sugar shock!), as is the method and order of layering. In fact, you don't really need to layer at all, though I would recommend following my before-and-after method with the sweetened condensed milk, since it seems to prevent the bars from falling apart or becoming too dry after baking.

While researching this recipe, I came across lots of comments regarding overly thin crusts, so my version includes slightly more butter and graham cracker crumbs than most traditional recipes. I'd also recommend crushing your own crackers, since store-bought crumbs may be too fine to create a proper crust. Other than that, the recipe is simplicity itself and you can make adjustments for preferences or allergies quite easily. These bars also travel well, making the trip up to Chicago with nary a strand of coconut out of place!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday came late this week

   Whew we have been busy here at Oaktopia Design just keeping up with the Christmas rush.  That's a good thing, but it sure keeps me far away from my blog.  So just to update everyone on what's up in the shop.  We have these super cute kitty cat hats made from faux fur and they are selling faster than we ever expected.  I personally had to have one for myself for all the wonderful Burning Man fund raisers that will be coming up, and if luck is on my side I may return to Burning Man this next year.

     Also with New Year's Eve coming right on the heels of Christmas, those lovely feather eyelashes are flying right out the door.  So are the vintage cocktail bags and the 3-D glow in the dark tattoos.  Did I ever mention that those are reusable?  Well they are.  I have a set that were made for me 4 years ago and I love them.  They look just as good today as they did on the first day.  Mind you they never made it to the Playa.  But our designer has worn his to the playa every year and the dust washes off and they look like new.  Who would have thought?!?

So drop by the shop and check out all the cool things we have, like monster purses, hair extensions, lovely jewelry, and tons of things.  Remember we still have our special running....through Dec 15th (that's tomorrow) the entire shop is 15% off use coupon code DEC15.  See you soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


  I just love this idea from Michelle at the Scrap Shoppe.

Framed Advent Calendar {Homemade Christmas Decor}

To start Homemade Christmas Decor week, I want to show you my brand new 
Framed Advent Calendar!

Its high time we had an advent calendar around here. With my oldest being 3, we need a little help counting down the days to Christmas!

Here's how I made it... 
I found this great frame in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby. $10.80 for a 10.5x14.4 inch frame? Yes please!!

Canvas Corp was kind enough to send me some of their products to play with, so I decided to try out their waxed cotton cording to string along my frame. I tied off each end so it would be hidden behind the frame and put a small dab of Beacon's 3-in-1 in the center of the knots to make sure nothing would come untied.

You may know by now how much I love Kraft paper, so I was beyond thrilled to find several pieces of patterned Kraft paper in my Canvas Corp stash! I selected 5 different sheets and cut them into 25 rectangles for the banners for my advent calendar.

I put some Wonder Film from P K Glitz (a double-sided adhesive sheet) through my Silhouette to cut out some numbers for the calendar. Then I put the numbers on the rectangles of Kraft paper. 

I wanted glittery numbers that would really shine in the Christmas lights so once I took the top layer of paper off of the Wonder Film numbers, I sprinkled them with P K Glitz crimson glitter. They seriously sparkle! And the red looks fabulous on the Kraft paper!

I continued on with all of the numbers, adding the glitter to them all.

Then to make my rectangles into banners, I took the scissors and various border punches to them.

On the back of the banners I added various Christmas decorations I had in my scrapbook stash.
(banners, stickers, stamps, transparencies, buttons...)

Included in the Canvas Corp stash were some cute mini clothespins. To make them more "Christmas-y" I added a little candy cane effect with some acrylic stamps.

Once the clothespins were dry I hung up all of the banners!

This is the front and back view.

To help decorate the frame, I wound some strips of brown burlap around one corner and made a bow out of some painted burlap ribbon I purchased last year for Christmas.

And this is my little set up for it! On the old Singer sewing machine. 
Guarded by Santa!

I think it turned out pretty darn cute! 

And its a great countdown for the kiddo. In a few years when the boys are older we might try a more interactive advent calendar. But I will always keep this one for myself!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy December Morning

Hey Oaktopia Fans, we are offering a coupon for 15% off your entire order, just put in DEC15 in the coupon area when you check out. 
Plus if you are there just to buy the fine jewelry (it must be from the JEWELRY category) I have a super sneaky coupon just for that. Enter Oaktopiafan for a 20% discount on Jewelry. Remember it must come from the Jewelry Section of our shop and that listing is only going to be good for this Monday12/5/11 through Friday 12/10/11
So go rake in some good deals. BTW you can only use 1 coupon at a time, so if you want some Jewelry and then find stuff in other categories, buy your jewelry first and then come back for the rest of the stuff that way you get the benefit of the larger discount on the jewelry, and still get to use the Dec. coupon on all your other things.  The December Coupon is only good until 12/15/11.  Then check back with us for other special offers that only our fans get.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Oaktopia Design

Friday, December 2, 2011


Yarn Wrapped Star Ornament {DIY Tutorial}

Homemade ornaments are fun, personal and the sky is the limit for your creative juices.  This year I opened up an Etsy store called House 129 and have made several ornaments that are rustic, natural, and a bit of whimsy.  The Yarn Wrapped Star Ornament is one of those pieces and was inspired by West Elms Yarn-Wrapped Ornament.  Today, I'm tickled silly to share the DIY tutorial for this ornament.

yarn star ornament_supplies needed_wtrmk

Supplies you'll need include a piece of cardboard, glue gun, scissors, yarn(s) of choice, twine and a star template (the size and shape of your choice personalizes this tutorial).   The very first thing you'll want to do is decide on the shape and size of your star.  Trace it onto the cardboard and cut.  Note:  My cardboard is white on one side and kraft on the other (as you will see throughout the images).

yarn star ornament_sketch_cardboard_wtmk 
Once you have your star(s) cut out, you'll want to cut a piece of twin to use for your loop.  I usually do a 7"-8" strand for my ornaments, but that can vary based on personal preferences.  Make sure your glue gun is warmed up and ready to go to work, here is where the fun gets started.  Now you'll want to place a small amount of glue on the tip of the star and ensure that each end of your twine is secure.  You'll also want to put a dot of glue to place the yarn on before you start wrapping.  

yarn star ornament_getting started_wtrmk 
And now you wrap... there is no mathematical, order or system to this.  
yarn star ornament_wrapping_wtrmk 
Just keep wrapping, going in different directions.  This is thee element of this ornament that makes each and everyone unique, with a rustic feel.  No perfection is necessary here {yay!}.  For the perfectionist in me, that's like a breath of fresh air {smile}.   Now, when you get to the points, you'll want to be sure to use your glue gun -- placing glue on both side to ensure that the yarn cannot unravel.  
yarn star ornament_glue dot_wtrmk 
It's a little hard to see, but it is picture above in the spotlighted section.  So, how is your wrapping coming along?   Just keep wrapping...until the entire piece of cardboard is covered and it appears that that the star is balanced overall.  While a perfect wrap isn't necessary, you don't want one side of the star much thicker than the other.  As your wrapping, you can evaluate and adjust as necessary.  However, once you glue a point, turning back is a little harder to do. As you near completion, wrap until you have the perfect spot to cut the yarn and inner twine it within the ornament.  When that is determined, be sure to apply a dot of glue again to ensure it's secure.
Once you've completed that step -- VOILA!  You have yourself a Yarn Wrapped Star Ornament.  I love this yarn too.  The color is called Aspen Tweed.  I picked it up at Walmart and I'm in love with it's color and texture.  Their not difficult and can be made in all different shapes, sizes and color.  Add one to your gifts for a little extra touch of love.  Happy Crafting!

Please join with me as I party with the fabulous ladies of these blogs:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Cyber Monday

     New MONSTER purses are ready for Cyber Monday.  Anyone who doesn't know, Cyber Monday is the biggest on line shopping day.  Some of us just will not brave the crowds for generic gifts.  Why not have the convenience of sitting in your favorite chair and doing your shopping on line. 
     At Oaktopia Design we have a large selection of hand made items that are unique and made with love.  There's the added bonus of FREE SHIPPING on all orders through the end of November.  I know that is only two days away, but that's two days you can get your shopping done and still keep your sanity.  I know that's how I am doing it this year. 
     Have a happy day, and look for some fun DIY stuff later this week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

mmmmm Wednesday

Okay,  so here I am sitting in bed rummaging through Julie Ann's blog and what do I see on her blog but some super yummy treat called Black Bottoms. I could not believe my eyes, or tummy.  So as a special Wednesday edition of Oaktopia Design I give you Julie's Black Bottoms.

Black Bottoms Recipe

Jordan picked out the recipe for this post. His mom made Black Bottoms throughout his childhood and he had a craving. (No pressure...) Turns out, I did a good job. :] But now, I cannot stop devouring them! I packaged up a bunch to take to work tomorrow because I apparently have no control when it comes to these mini cupcakes of pure heaven. But I mean, chocolatey outside, creaming cream cheese and chocolate chips filling....can you blame me?
You're going to make two mixtures. First combine: 8 oz cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1 package chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt. Then add the following to the dry ingredients: 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tb vinegar. Beat together.
So you should have to separate bowls of yumminess. Line a mini cupcake tin with mini cupcake wrappers. Fill the tin half way with the chocolate mixture. Then add a dollop of the cream cheese mixture on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let them cool and then prepare to get addicted!
Oh and you can thank her for that extra weight on your hips!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monster Monday

Howdy all,
     I hope your weekend went well.  Here at Oaktopia Design we have added some great new items.  Keith has posted a couple of hand painted Christmas card designs and he is working on a third.  They are beautiful and it's amazing that they were painted. 
     We have also added more to our Jewelry line and Vintage area.  We have some wonderful evening bags at great prices and we are offering FREE SHIPPING. Just put in the code from our front page SHIPOAKTOPIA at time of check out in the coupon area and you will get your package shipped for FREE.  Now is a great time to do a little Christmas shopping before Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit us with full force.
     I bet you are wondering why I titled this Monster Monday, well it's because I have had such a reaction to my little Monster bags, that I have decided to make a few and put them on the web site, so if you haven't been there in a while it's time to check out what has changed. 
     I hope you all are enjoying the DIY blogs that our guest bloggers have been doing.  I think we will be adding an extra day of DIY crafts just for fun and variety.
     Have a great week and I'll be chatting with you all soon. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy DIY Saturday

Well oficially it's still Friday night to me here, but the clock says Saturday morning, so Happy Saturday to you all. 

Well as you all know I am a big fan of laminating cool things (like stamps from China) and making earrings out of them.  My good friend Lauren at The Perfect Pear, gave us all a whole new spin on laminated earrings.  So forget about the crummy weather if that is what your weekend looks like and make yourself a fun pair of earrings.

Some pretty laminated type leave/feather earrings! :) 
You will need: Scissors, A pen, Chain, Clear tape or a laminate, earring hooks, a needle, jump rings and some jewelry supplies as well as a pretty pattern with pattern on both sides of paper, which I got off of flickr, right here
1: Start by cutting your shapes, I just did a basic leaf shape, very simple!
2: After you've cut out your leaves tape both sides, I did a hot dog style fold with the tape :)
3: Cut off all the excess tape, leaving a plastic edge (this is totally optional)
4: Next you want to make a hole with your needle large enough to get your jump ring through it!
5: Cut your chain to desired length. Attach leaves with jump rings starting at the bottom, skipping one link and adding another leaf. Let me know if those instructions are unclear, leave a comment!
6: Attach your earrings hooks to the other end of the chain!
Ta-Da! Pretttyyyyy :)