Simple Origami Lotus / Waterlily Flower Arts & Crafts Tutorial (Perfect for Pan Asian Themed Décor, Place-cards, & Chopstick Rests)

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This arts and crafts tutorial for an origami lotus flower, also known as a waterlily, is really very simple. I first learned the method from a book in elementary school, and I’ve been making them ever since. I’ve been known to leave them as calling cards, get well messages, love tokens, etc. They also make elegant yet inexpensive table décor because they can be upcycled from any paper. Just write a name on a petal to use them as place-cards then allow them to double as disposable chopstick rests… but expect some to be taken home as mementos from the evening.

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Use any paper you like from traditional origami paper from the craft store, to economical white printer paper like this. (Read my origami crane tutorial to read how to use wrapping paper.) Fold one corner over until it meets the opposite side, and press the crease down flat.

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Cut off the uncovered portion of paper cleanly, using the folded paper’s edge as a guide. You have just made a perfect square without using a ruler.

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Unfold the triangle you’ve cut free, and then refold it using the opposite corners. Now unfold it, you should see an X crease into the square of paper.

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Next take each corner and fold it into the middle, using the X crease as a guide. You just made a smaller square shape.

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Repeat this 4 corner folding again, making an even smaller square.

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Repeat this again, making an even tinier square.

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Now flip it over, and then repeat the 4 corner folding into the center one last time.

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This is the tricky part… place your thumb into one corner of the square, and place the other fingers under the lipped point underneath it. Push in the corner with your thumb while gently pulling the underneath point out. It will flip up and over into a sort of petal. (The right petal in the picture is only halfway done. You can keep pulling gently until it looks like the left petal.) Stop pushing and pulling once the petal has a solid form with a rounded outside edge. Repeat this petal making on all corners.

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Now pull out the four hidden points from beneath.

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This is what it’s supposed to look like, but it may take a few blooms to get the hang of petal pulling.

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This is what the underside should look like. (It’s the perfect place to write a little message.)

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This is one of my origami waterlilies being used as a place-card holder/ chopstick rest. See it in action in my Pan Asian Inspired Indigo Shibori & Wooden Themed Tablescape (Perfect for Luncheons & Informal Dinners).

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Bloom where you are planted!

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

Chinese New Year of the Sheep / Ram Party Décor Ideas (With Formal Table Setting & Kid’s Table)

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Celebrating Chinese New Year is always fun as each year comes with a new built-in theme to accompany the vibrant traditional colors and motifs. In this way, it’s easy to build on the previous event by adding a few new décor elements each year. Use the elegant formal table setting or the fun and playful Kid’s Table… or a combination as ideas for your own celebration. Spend as much or as little as you like, making the evening a complete spectacle or a simple affair. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the beauty of another culture, and the Year of the Ram will only return in twelve years… and well, it’s a really good excuse for having a great time!

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The kids table utilized printables and crafts from my recent articles (Origami Crane Paper Folding Instructions -for Get Well Wishes or Chinese New Year Décor) & (Take-Out Favor Box & Paper Lantern Craft Printable + Bamboo Lantern + Paint to Antique a Lion Fú-Dog -DIY Chinese New Year Party Décor Crafts). The projects are a quick and easy way to decorate while leaving your budget available for all the wonderful food.

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Lanterns are a traditional element of the Chinese New Year because the last day of it is the start of the lantern festival. My printables are an easy way to employ that tradition in your own home. They only need printing, cutting, and gluing. The “Fú” 福 characters, decorating the boxes, have graced the entrances of Chinese homes for many hundreds of New Year’s. It is said to have originated, not just for its meaning of happiness and luck, but also because “upside down” and “to arrive” sound alike when spoken in Chinese, thus making an upside down Fú equate to “good luck arrives”. (For some, however, hanging the Fu upside down is bad luck, so I’ve decided to make the character right side up on my printable boxes!)

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Use the printables as favor containers, table crayon corrals, or cut out the character to make an LED lantern or luminaria. I stacked some of them onto a vintage brass tea-light holder and stuck in paper dragon favor puppets to heighten the spectacle… with no expectation that the centerpiece would stay intact long! Using LED lights insures that no fire will catch the paper, even if knocked over… so they are super kid and pet safe. It’s also easy to use the cut-out character to embellish a bamboo lantern like those I’ve painted in the pictures. (See my tutorial for the instructions on how to complete your own.)

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Origami cranes are a lovely way to bring the kiddos into the party planning while teaching a timeless art to another generation. The historically traditional crane figure is an apropos symbol of hope for the coming year. The Japanese tradition of the “Senbazuru” folding of 1000 paper cranes is said to grant the maker a wish, such as healing for a loved one. The “Tsuru” (crane) is also said to denote happiness and luck, which is the same meaning of the “Fú” 福 character. These can easily be made with anything from wrapping paper to typing paper (see my tutorial for instructions with a picture for each step).

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The powerful guardian lion Fú-dog is a traditional Chinese figure of protection. The one seen here is male because he’s resting a paw on a ball that represents the earth. Usually they are presented in pairs, but I only had one in a bright lime green color. I took this statuette from modern lime lion to antique guardian in a few simple steps (detailed in my tutorial). You can do the same with any accessory that doesn’t quite match your décor. Also set on the side table was a small sheep figure as a traditional way to represent the year. The gilded platter (non-breakable) symbolized the land of the rising sun. A book with more dragon puppets (from Oriental Trading Company, see the side bar for discount links) extra coloring pages, and lucky candy completed the picture.

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Decorating the background were a mix of traditionally made bamboo kites (red phoenix bird and orange karp / goldfish) and modern kites (tiger and panda). Extend the New Year’s celebration to the weekend by letting your decorations fly freely. Having something else to look forward to is a nice way to ease the post-party let down that kiddos sometimes feel. (All of these were found on clearance for a few dollars each at Cost Plus World Market.) Above them hung an inexpensive yet lovely Chinese banner (again from Oriental Trading Company) suspended on simple pushpins.

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Decorative paper plates and napkins were set onto printed coloring pages depicting all of the animals in the Chinese zodiac. Red envelopes containing coin money in even numbers are a traditional gift for children. Colorful punch, lucky candy, paper cranes, crayons, and mandarin oranges completed the setting.

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Orange fruit is another traditional element of the Chinese New Year, so I included them in both tablescapes. It’s an easy way to add color without the trouble or expense of a formal centerpiece. It allows the gorgeous food to remain the center of attention.

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My Quick & Easy Overnight Pickled Cucumbers Recipe was another colorful element to complement the other traditional dishes. (I will be posting more Asian inspired recipes from time to time in the future.)

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Next to it were longevity noodles which symbolize long life when uncut. The dish was topped with prawns because seafood is a Chinese New Year must have. (Just make sure no guest has a shellfish allergy.) A whole fish pointed in the direction of the guest of honor would have been more traditional, but I was out-voted on that menu choice.

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Half-moon shaped steamed dumplings are another necessity for the year’s celebration. (The round shaped variety depicts a life that goes around in circles never completing any goals, so those are considered bad luck!) Check out my allergy-friendly recipe for steamed dumplings here.

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Fried springs rolls are practically required New Year’s fare! Adjacent to those were long beans with a black bean sauce and a prawn vegetable dish served over rice.

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Some of the dishes were set onto wooden stands to both protect the table and elevate the vessels to different heights.

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Each platter should have its own set of chopsticks or spoon. Serving chopsticks are typically longer and more decorative than those one eats with, but I only had one set of that type.

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A lovely soup tureen was set into another platter to catch spills. This also contained a serving spoon and a few fortune cookies… an American tradition only, but why not celebrate the blending of beautiful cultures. Scattered around the center were some vintage boxes containing lucky candy.

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Many Chinese tables are fitted with “lazy susan” turntables at the center so that everyone can reach each dish. I have a couple of these, but opted for a different style of arrangement this year. Hanging in a circle from the chandelier, was another red banner like the one in the other room.

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Down the center of table ran a length of metallic sprayed mesh fabric to coordinate with my grandmother’s china. She actually purchased the tableware when she lived in Taiwan for a time. A simple white tablecloth anchored it all. I was hesitant to use white, because it can be considered a funerary color (yikes), but it was the only thing I had that suited the china… which was incidentally made the year of a ruler’s death, thus the color of the teacups were made white instead of the normal red (according to my grandmother).

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Tea is the drink of choice for such a celebration, and its cup is placed to the right just as in a Western table setting. The bowl for soup or rice goes to the left where a Western bread plate would sit. The flat bottomed spoon is set into that if there is no double rest for spoon and chopsticks. At the top and center is a small rimmed plate for dipping sauce. Usually only one variety is served universally, but I served 3 kinds from which guests could choose from.

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Seated on the side table in the background were three of my grandmother’s dancing statues, an orchid, and one of my painted lanterns.

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Above that were two of her woven hats that she requested I hang on the wall as décor. There really was something here for everyone.

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In celebrating this Chinese New Year (slightly early so that I could post it for y’all), I tried to incorporate traditions and symbols while adding some playful American touches. In this way, I believe we can pay special recognition to the beauty of our blended cultures.

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Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. If any of you live near Frisco, Texas… be sure to check out “Tasty Garden Chinese Restaurant” whose kind individuals would love to make your party preparations easier by adding a beautiful dish or two to complete the setting. Who says you have to make every recipe at the table? They’ve said they would be happy to work with individuals to avoid allergens… which is always appreciated! http://www.tastygardenonline.com/

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2 Fast & Easy Valentine’s Day Banner Décor Craft Tutorials (Doily & Glitter Hearts + Printable)

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These Valentine’s Day banner crafts are so fast and easy that even the busiest mama can make them with her little ones. The glitter heart and doily printable only needs the addition of letters to spell out any message you wish. The second banner is comprised of layered doilies and extra valentines. Both are so inexpensive yet add a lot of heartfelt sentiment and party atmosphere. Plus, they’re lightweight enough to stick in a big envelope and send to a loved one whose away for the holiday. You can even use the printables as stand-alone Valentine Cards!

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First let’s make the doily valentine banner. This is a great project to use up any leftover schoolroom Valentine cards from your kiddo’s class. You can even save the received ones to make banners for next year’s celebration.

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One only needs to add some low-cost paper doilies in varying sizes. I used leftovers from last year along with some Holly-Hobby Valentine Cards from my childhood.

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Merely use dots of glue to layer the doilies and Valentines. Then add a ribbon bow for dimension.

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Tie circles of twine, yarn, or ribbon through the holes in the doilies and knot together. Hang it up and enjoy!

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The glitter heart and doily banner is one that can be easily made by two different methods. You can print and cut out all the glitter doily hearts you need, using my printable at the end of the article. You can also use inexpensive glittered foam hearts from the craft store, and use hot glue to layer white doily hearts onto them.

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Either way, the next step is add letters spelling out any sentiment you’d like. I cut out letters with a machine from black card stock to coordinate with my chalkboard theme. You can also use a stencil to trace and hand cut them, or buy them readymade at the craft store. (Michaels has them in every color and texture you can think of. Click on the affiliate link in the side bar to snatch the latest coupons.) I added a knot of ribbon to each dip in the heart to further tie in with my theme’s color palette. Feel free to add any other elements you’d like from paper roses to stickers. (You can even skip the letters and let a kiddo color in pictures to use the printables as Valentine Cards.)

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Next add holes to both sides of each heart with a hole-punch. Then use ribbon or twine to string them together. Add a loop at each end to hang the banners by. Voila!

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♥ Happy Heart’s Day!

Faithfully yours,

Leigh

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P.S. Here is the Glitter-Doily Heart Printable. Simply right click on the image and select Print. Print them in the best color photo setting.

Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas with Tablescape Décor Ideas Evoking Love’s Pure Light

Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with tablescape décor ideas evoking Love’s pure light. Placing a nativity as a Christmas dinner’s centerpiece places the message of Christ into the center of the Christmas celebration itself. It’s a beautiful way to remember the greatest gift of truest love.

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“Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright, Round yon Virgin Mother and Child! Holy Infant, so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace!”

The focal point of the centerpiece vignette is a gilded nativity sculpture ensconced within a sheltering angel’s wings inset with shimmering glass mosaic. A gilt cross is placed as a reminder of the resolution of the ultimate gift. Beaded tree forms stand in deference to the difficult journey made to Bethlehem.

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“Silent night! Holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight! Glories stream from Heaven afar, Heavenly Hosts sing Alleluia! Christ, the Saviour, is born! Christ, the Saviour, is born!”

A golden polyptych rising as the gates of Heaven reflects a glimmering mosaic Holy Family sculpture and presiding angel aglow with proclamation. Glories stream as jeweled fabric swirls from a beaded wreath representing He that is all seeing.

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“Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at Thy Birth! Jesus, Lord, at Thy Birth!”

Radiant light reflects as the looming dawn from a large beaded ornament poised over the nativity. Reproductions of renaissance art featuring Madonna with child are exhibited with various gilded crosses in the background.

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“Silent Night, Holy Night Here at last, healing light From the heavenly kingdom sent, Abundant grace for our intent. Jesus, salvation for all. Jesus, salvation for all.”

Ornamental golden levels rise as the stairway to Heaven whose path may be traversed by means of the prayers of the faithful and Love’s pure light, symbolized by lit votive candles of golden beads and frosted glass.

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“Silent Night! Holy Night” Sleeps the world in peace tonight. God sends his Son to earth below A Child from whom all blessings flow Jesus, embraces mankind. Jesus, embraces mankind.”

Heavenly blessings as signified by vintage gold embroidered tulle envelop the earthen colored cloth. Gold-leafed chalices bear remembrance to Holy sacrament.

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“Silent Night, Holy Night Mindful of mankind’s plight The Lord in Heav’n on high decreed From earthly woes we would be freed Jesus, God’s promise for peace. Jesus, God’s promise for peace.”

Brass utensils with wooden handles echo tools suggesting earthly toil and mankind’s plight. A simple wooden plate hearkening to the apostles’ era is ringed by a halo of righteousness in the form of a golden charger. Christmas messages of “hope” and “joy” mark handcrafted napkin rings which encircle cloth napkins implying the fabric of humanity.

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Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14 KJV

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. Though there are actually several versions of “Silent Night, Holy Night”, I have quoted the most complete translation of the original German Hymn (whose words were written by Rev. Joseph Mohr in 1816, and music composed by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818).

P.P.S. Print free nativity Christmas cards and learn how to easily make the coordinating napkin rings here: Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas with Free Printable Nativity Cards and Easy Craft Tutorial for Hope & Joy Napkin Rings for Christmas Dinner

Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas with Free Printable Nativity Cards & Easy Craft Tutorial for Hope & Joy Napkin Rings for Christmas Dinner

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Easily craft beautiful hope and joy napkin rings for Christmas dinner with this quick tutorial, and then send free printable nativity cards that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. In this way you may offer the message of abounding hope and joy for the Christmas season.

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In order to make the napkin rings, you will need a wired ribbon of 1.5 inch width. Choose any pattern of colors to coordinate with the table linens you plan on using. You will need to cut a 6 inch strip for each ring you plan to make, and then you can use the leftover ribbon for coordinating wreaths or packages. You’ll also need miniature word ornaments or scrapbooking embellishments. (This ribbon was 40% off at Hobby Lobby, as were the adornments which were available in various metals and words.) You can also go a step further by bending wire to form a cursive word… but on this day I was going for a quick and easy 5 minute project!

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Place a line of glue along the decorative side of the short end of the ribbon. Slightly overlap that edge over the other, and press firmly for lasting adherence. (Use a silicone finger guard to protect yourself from the heat while pressing.)

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Flatten the rings with the seam centered on the underside. Use a glue like E6000 to adhere the metal to the glittered ribbon, as it grips unlike surfaces well. Just use a dot of glue at the center of the word. Let them dry overnight.

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My free printable card is a great way to send Christmas blessings celebrating the true meaning of the holiday to everyone on your list. Print out the exact number you need, when you need them, without having to go back to the store for extra boxed sets. It’s much simpler and far less expensive to buy bulk boxes of envelopes for year round use. (Check my arts & crafts webpage or index webpage for my ever-growing selection of free printables… free for noncommercial personal use only!) To print the cards, simply right click on the image above and select print. One page equals one 5×7 card… so choose the number you want to make, and select color and photo quality settings.

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Cut along the colorized edge of the rectangle and fold in half. If you really want to make the card shine, spread opalescent glitter glue over the halos and stargazes, and then let them dry overnight before sending. (In person, the dramatic difference is worth the 10 seconds per card.) You can handwrite a line of scripture (like the one below), or use a dollar bin stamp as an easy way to add a special Christmas message of your choice to the inside of each card. (Le fidèLe Designs affiliate store Michaels offers these often.) This is a great project to involve the whole family with an assembly line of printing, cutting, folding, stamping, glittering, and then group signing. You spend less money, and the hand crafted card is appreciated more by the recipient (at least from what I’ve experienced.)

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“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13 KJV

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. See the napkin rings within a Christmas dinner setting in my article here: Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas with Tablescape Décor Ideas Evoking Love’s Pure Light

Celebrate Halloween with Colorful Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) Party Décor Inspired by Traditional Ofrenda Symbolism (+ DIY Craft Tutorials & Candy Recipe)

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Celebrate Halloween with colorful Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party décor inspired by traditional ofrenda symbolism. It is an edifying means of incorporating both traditions into an event that seeks to cultivate an atmosphere of cultural understanding. By recognizing the universal conditions of love, life, and death through festivity, we can be united as one people comprised of a beautiful mosaic of ethnic tradition. In this way, revelry becomes a means of dispelling the negative cultural bias that plagues the nation, so that we may move forward together in celebration.

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Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) coincides with All Saints Day and All Souls Day in both tradition and calendar. In this regard, a traditional ofrenda (offering) has a higher central tier honoring a deceased loved one. Taking the place of a photograph is another traditional element, that of a religious symbol. It takes the form of a chalkboard cross that has been inscribed with flowers and the Spanish words, “Te Amo” (“I love You”). A vase upcycled with crystal appliques holds a floral offering in keeping with gravesite ritual. See how easy this is to make in my tutorial here: DIY Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Napkin Rings, Wine Glass Charms, & Vase Craft Tutorial for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Themed Halloween Dinner Party Décor.

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Lit candles are said to illuminate the path for the visiting spirits of loved ones. Representing fire, these may be in the form of Catholic religious candles depicting santos (saints), luminarias (lanterns) made of pierced paper bags or cans, or plain wax candles. Perritos (little dog figurines) are presented in symbolic gesture regarding the idea that dogs guided ancestral spirits to the afterlife. (Because surely “all dogs go to Heaven”!) Mariposas monarcha (monarch butterflies), that migrate to Mexico through Texas in the fall, represent visiting ancestors. Wild yellow and orange Mexican marigolds (cempasúchil) are known as the flor de muerto (flower of the dead). They may be linked into garlands, shaped into crosses, or placed decoratively. A fun way to incorporate these elements is make your own luminarias and flowers. The traditional crafts are easy to make using my tutorial here: Easy DIY Upcycled Can Tea-light Luminarias (+ Free Printable Template) & Tissue Paper Flowers Crafts (for Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Décor). Another essential item is a papel picado (cut paper) banner which signifies the fragility of life.

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Representing water is a Mexican bubble glass pitcher bearing a traditional mask of la calavera catrina (iconic image of a wealthy 1800’s era Euro-Mexican lady). When worn as a parade mask, half of the face is covered with a skull representation symbolizing life as inextricably linked with death. Make your own with the help of my tutorial here: DIY La Calavera Catrina Costume Mask & Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Banner for a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Themed Halloween. Other decorative elements are multi-colored doilies beneath figures of X’s & O’s(kisses & hugs), and little signs naming the holiday. Small sugar skull tins replace toys, and framed sugar skull images replace ancestors’ photos in this lighthearted nod to tradition.

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Calaveritas de azucar (little sugar skulls) are necessary offerings as its sweetness (representing life) is said to balance the bitterness of muerte (death). Easily make these with my recipe here: Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Edible Folk Art & Egg-Free Vegan Candy Recipe for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) or Halloween. Seeds (with an obvious connection to life) originally decorated skulls in place of sugar. They are still offered as a traditional component, with food representing the element earth. Here they are contained in floral dishes nested into decorative tin pails. Sprouted pepitas or semillas de Calabaza (pumpkin seeds), pipas (sunflower seeds), and fried green peas as well as roasted chick peas (garbanzo beans) are adorned here with glittered skull cupcake picks. A trio of palanqueta de ajonjoli disks (sesame seed candy) are another sweet form of seed offering. (Nut brittle is a form of this kind of candy.) Sugared marshmallow pops are propped into stacks of customary naranjas (oranges). (The pops were purchased at Fiesta Mart, but they may also be found at Le fidèLe affiliates Michaels & World Market whose coupon links are in the left side bar or below on a smart phone.) Pan de muerto (bread of the dead) sits front and center of the ofrenda as it denotes human life in its round skull-like form with an X of raised dough like cross-bones. It is a pan dulce (sweet bread) flavored with anise and orange peel. Candies, Mexican chocolate, and chicle (chewing gum) are also customary offerings.

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White glittered skull shapes may be decorated and strung as another craft honoring the holiday. Read how to make the banner here: DIY La Calavera Catrina Costume Mask & Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Banner for a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Themed Halloween.

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Make your own stand-up signs with dollar wooden shapes from the craft store. These prepainted shapes came from Le fidèLe Design’s affiliate Michaels (see the coupon link in the left side bar or scroll down on a smart phone), but any blank shape may be decorated easily with paint pens. Simply glue a wooden bead or shape (like these pyramids) to the base of the back.

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The background fabric for the ofrenda was once used as a tablecloth for a dinner party. (It can be purchased at Le fidèLe affiliate Joann whose coupon link is in the left sidebar, or below on a smart phone.) See it in this capacity in my previously posted article using this theme for a grown-up Halloween tablescape here: Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Themed Halloween Dinner Party Décor + DIY Décor & Recipe Links. Learn how to make your own wine glass charms and napkin rings for the dinner party here: DIY Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Napkin Rings, Wine Glass Charms, & Vase Craft Tutorial for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Themed Halloween Dinner Party Décor.

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Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

Reverential Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or Independence Day Tablescape Décor Ideas Honoring American Forces

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These reverential Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or Independence Day tablescape décor ideas are a tangible manner for honoring American forces by setting aside a time to remember the sacrifices made for our collective freedom. This carries on a fine tradition dating to just after the civil war when families would gather with picnics upon hallowed cemetery grounds. Our ancestors and loved ones may be gone but are never forgotten so long as we continue to commemorate the dear price they paid for our united peace.

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“Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest On this Field of the Grounded Arms, Where foes no more molest, Nor sentry’s shot alarms!“

A bare wooden table denotes the now barren fields of battles past.

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“Ye have slept on the ground before, And started to your feet At the cannon’s sudden roar, Or the drum’s redoubling beat.”

Canvas cloth stars and stripes lay the groundwork for the start of a serene supper. Handcrafted ribbon napkin rings encompass cloth napkins rolled as bandages once were.

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“But in this camp of Death No sound your slumber breaks; Here is no fevered breath, No wound that bleeds and aches.”

A seat at the table of peace procures red merely with ceramic vessels set among wooden ones, as wood handled metal flatware convey the firearms of yore.

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“All is repose and peace, Untrampled lies the sod; The shouts of battle cease, It is the Truce of God!”

This day’s flag of peace is a handmade banner of fabric collage celebrating the triumphal peace of war’s cessation.

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“Rest, comrades, rest and sleep! The thoughts of men shall be As sentinels to keep Your rest from danger free.”

Flag bearing bronze columns hold pillar candles aflame while standing as the evening’s sentinels.

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“Your silent tents of green We deck with fragrant flowers; Yours has the suffering been, The memory shall be ours.”

A memorial wreath encircling a solemn flame rests at the table’s focal point as our minds focus with somber reverence.

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. The poem quoted is “Decoration Day” written in 1882 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (Memorial Day has evolved from post-civil war’s Decoration Day.)

P.P.S. ⇓ Learn how to make your own patriotic banner here:

DIY July 4th Denim No-Sew Applique Collage Star-Spangled Banner Craft Tutorial for Independence Day

⇓ Find the patriotic ring tutorial plus more crafting here:

Faux Metal Stars Paper Mache Craft Tutorial & DIY Napkin Rings for Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or Independence Day

Faux Metal Stars Paper Mache Craft Tutorial & DIY Napkin Rings for Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or Independence Day

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Make your own faux metal stars inexpensively out of paper maché ornaments with this craft tutorial, and then easily DIY custom patriotic napkin rings for Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or Independence Day. Use these to perfectly coordinate with your existing holiday décor for a high end look on a shoestring budget. These hefty appearing textured “metal” stars are actually lightweight enough to be used in so many more applications. And they really do fool everyone… until they’re touched!

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It’s astonishingly easy to turn inexpensive paper maché ornament stars (found in craft stores nearly year round) into expensive looking one-of-a-kind textured metallic pieces to embellish any project you can think of.

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Grab a bag of star ornaments, some cheap white school glue, a lighter or match, and a candle. (I like to use up the last chunks of tall or broken candles to use on these kinds of projects, because candles flames do work better than lighter flames… just don’t ask me why. I stuck this pink leftover into an empty glass soda bottle to hold it in place… as is necessary to prevent wax drip burns.)

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Cover a portion of a star completely in white glue. Hold it into the flame until the glue becomes hard with a dusty charcoal layer over it. (Don’t hold it over the bare paper because it will burn! If a flame does spark, just blow it out like a candle. Cover that area with more glue, and then burn on.)

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Rub off the dirty charcoal layer with a clean rag or paper towel. (You’ll start seeing a smooth sheen appear.)

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You can leave them as is or rub a light wash of metallic paint over them (cheap acrylic craft paint works well). It’s an easy way to add verdigris or to switch between silver and gold. I use a sponge square to dab on paint, and then quickly wipe some of it away (it does dry really fast).

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You can really see the detail of the texture on the star’s undersides. (There’s no need to finish the base if you plan on gluing them onto something else.)

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Now let’s make mix-and-match patriotic napkin rings using 1 roll of clearance chambray wired ribbon and some lengths of various American themed twill ribbon.

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First, cut 6 inch lengths of ribbon (1 chambray and 1 twill for each ring). Then hot glue the twill across the center of the larger chambray. Next, glue one short end over the other, overlapping them slightly.

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Check out the patriotic rings in action here: Reverential Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or Independence Day Tablescape Décor Ideas Honoring American Forces

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Learn how to make a matching patriotic banner here: DIY July 4th Denim No-Sew Applique Collage Star-Spangled Banner Craft Tutorial for Independence Day

Happy 4th of July fire-working!

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

Decadent Macadamia Nut Cake (Gluten-Free Vegan Cheesecake & Pound Cake Fusion) + DIY Cake Decorating Stencil Tutorial

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This decadent macadamia nut cake is a unique fusion of rich cheesecake and dense pound cake, yet it’s gluten-free and vegan! I invented it on a random whim of culinary creativity with no idea of how delicious it would turn out. I found out that it tastes even better on the second-day… which makes it a fantastic make-ahead dessert for you next gathering of gal pals. Easily decorate it with a DIY stencil and confectioner’s sugar, and serve it with a variety of fruit preserves. Then all you need to do is wait for the compliments to roll in before shocking everyone with the news that it’s gluten-free and vegan. Who knew guilt-free could taste this indulgent?!


Ingredients:

2 cups raw macadamia nuts (or raw cashews… soaked overnight)

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter, shortening, etc.)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or other extract)

4 teaspoons lemon juice (or other citrus juice)

½ cup fresh water (or juice)

2 cups Arrowhead Mills gluten-free baking mix (or another baking mix… not just flour)

2 egg replacers (3 teaspoons dry replacer + 4 tablespoons warm water… or 2 whole eggs, or 2 chia or flax “eggs”)

1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar (or powdered sugar)

1 teaspoons guar gum (or xanthan gum)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 dash sea salt (= ⅛ teaspoon)

Optional toppings: fruit preserves


Instructions:

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Remember to soak the macadamia nuts at room temperature the night before you want to bake the cake.

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Drain off the soaking liquid, and blend the nuts at high speed with a fresh ½ cup of water plus the lemon juice, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and prepared egg replacer. (Mix the dry egg replacer well with warm water until it’s a frothy white liquid.) Now add the dry ingredients to the wet concoction, mixing it very well. (For those of you with corn allergies… note that confectioner’s sugar and guar gum are the corn-free alternatives to powdered sugar and xanthan gum.)

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Pour the batter into round metal cake tins. (Metal conducts heat better for gluten-free baked goods.) Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until golden brown, in a 350ᵒ oven. (My oven has been running low and slow… so vary the time according to your oven’s temperament.)

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While letting the cakes cool completely, find a piece of clean copy paper to make a stencil / template with. Fold it in half, and draw one side of a heart (with the center of it running into the folded edge). Cut this out, and unfold it to reveal a perfect heart.

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Lay down the open heart and sprinkle additional confectioner’s sugar over the opening.

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Remove the stencil and sprinkle more around the edges of the cake.

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Another option is to lay down the solid heart template and sprinkle confectioner’s sugar around it.

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This is a great way to easily decorate this kind of cake for a gathering. Then you can top individual servings with everyone’s favorite flavor of fruit preserves.

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Make your cake peachy keen by topping it with scrumptious peach preserves straight from Fredericksburg, Texas… the town is known for its perfect peaches! (You can buy these delicious preserves, along with other amazing products from the Hill Country, at the affiliate link in the sidebar for Fredericksburg Farms.)

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. A little birdie told me that a smidgen is ¹̷32 teaspoon, a pinch is ¹̷16 teaspoon, and a dash is ⅛ teaspoon… who knew a pinch of salt could be so technical!

DIY Scrapbooking Paper Flower Mobile Craft Tutorial for Decorations & Gifts (Birthdays, Baby Showers, Mother’s Day, & Get Well Wishes)

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Craft your own DIY mobile from scrapbooking paper flowers with this tutorial for making decorations and gifts for birthdays, baby showers, Mother’s Day, and get well wishes. They’re great to hang up as party decorations, and then let your guests take them home as gifts. They also inexpensively make sweet craft room décor, and because they’re so lightweight they can be placed nearly everywhere… even suspended over a small workspace in a tiny craft closet to bring the magic of a lush fairy garden inside.

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The most important elements of the mobile are the paper flowers that hang from it. Try walking through the scrapbooking aisle at your local craft store, and choose the collection that really catches your eye. (Here, I’m using K & Company layered accents that were on sale.) Be sure to buy 2 matching sets, so that you can glue them back to back later.

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It looks much prettier to add a wash of color to the backs of the floral elements, so that when they’re glued they appear as additional petals. (The easiest way to do this is with a sheer colored marker like these Prismacolor markers in limepeel and lilac.) You can also easily modify the front of the designs by adding a wash of color to them. (In this way, I made blue flowers violet and white flowers lavender… who needs “Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo” when you have markers?!)

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Also, find a package of smaller floral elements to further embellish your piece with. (Here, I’m using a package of flower confetti that I found on the clearance aisle last year.) Remember that it’s so easy to alter the colors of these elements by simply coloring over them with a marker. (This lilac Prismacolor marker added a translucent layer turning my baby blue confetti into lavender… Flora, Fauna, & Merriweather can eat their hearts out!)

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You have several options for the ring the elements will hang from. You can use a 6 inch metal ring (like this golden one from Joann) and wrap it with ribbon… or simply use it as is. You can also opt to use a coordinating wired paper ribbon (as the one I’m using here, which came from my gift wrapping supplies). To do this simply cut a length of ribbon long enough to form approximately half a foot diameter (exact measurements aren’t necessary), and then cut that in half lengthwise.

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Next, you’ll need to cut 1 strand of yarn/ribbon for each floral element. Try cutting them in various lengths from 6 to 10 inches. (I used clearance yarns that matched my paper flowers.)

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Hot glue the yarn/ribbon pieces (staggered in lengths) to the inside curve of the wired ribbon piece.

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Now glue the ends together to form a complete circle, and then glue the top flap (of the wired ribbon) down over the glued strands.

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Next, you need to add 3 additional pieces of yarn/ribbon to make a hanging “tripod”. You can either glue them as you did with the strands earlier, or you can simply tie some on. Then, gather the loose ends at the top, and form a knotted loop to hang them by. (If you like, tie more pieces of yarn onto the loop to decorate it a bit.)

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Now it’s time to glue on the big flowers. (It’s easiest to do this by hanging the mobile up, so that you can see how you’re arranging the elements.) Hot glue them back to back with the yarn/ribbon sandwiched in between them. (Even though they have foam stickers, it’s best to use a little glue so that the yarn/ribbon stays put… because every fairy godmother knows it mortifying when your creation falls apart.)

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Hot glue the smaller floral pieces (confetti) in a staggered formation along the yarn/ribbon strands. (I also used torn off petals from the green floral confetti as leaves.) To the ring, add a few of the smaller flowers and a couple of larger elements (like these butterflies that were the K & Co. package… which I also tinkered with by adding color).

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I wanted the dominantly purple mobile to have more of a purple toned ring, so I used a lilac Prismacolor to color in the white portions of the paper ribbon. (I did the same using a blue marker on the dominantly blue mobile… the blue fairy herself couldn’t do this any easier.) It’s the little touches like that which really make mobile a visually cohesive structure… in other words, it’s prettier that way.

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If you feel like it needs more sparkle, attach crystals as flower centers and sprinkle glitter… then tell Tinkerbell to eat your pixie dust!

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. Check out these mobiles HERE in my Fairyland Tablescape hanging from the trees in the background.

Then get my free printable fairy cards HERE to gift with the mobiles you just created.

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Whimsical Fairyland Tablescape Décor Ideas for a Birthday Party or Mother’s Day Celebration

Welcome to a whimsical fairyland with tablescape décor ideas perfect for a birthday party or Mother’s Day celebration. This is a venue where fantastical flower bearing fairies evoke Irish proverbs that will fill your mind with conviviality as joy fills your soul.

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“Your feet will bring you where your heart is.”

Take a seat next to a dear loved one whose smile is lit by the glistening light reflected by the chandelier’s découpaged crystals.

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“What fills the eye fills the heart.”

Feast your eyes upon a table festooned with watercolor ribbon bows and a berry clustered birdbath centerpiece framed by ceramic tulip salt and pepper shakers.

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“A word is more enduring than worldly wealth.”

Meadow fairies present you with purple flowers and signs declaring, “You’re the Greatest!”

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“People live in each other’s shelter.”

Rest upon floral cushions as you bask in the serenity of good company sheltering beneath trees adorned with handcrafted paper flower mobiles.

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“Time is a good storyteller.”

Raise a toast with violet bubble goblets in celebration of time shared as you dine upon ceramic dishware of purple dragonflies twirling around parchment paper pansies.

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“A light heart lives long.”

A lavender tablecloth of basket-weave patterning glides across a lighthearted tablescape with wood handled flatware and eggplant napkins rolled into handmade watercolor ribbon napkin rings.

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Remember that “Mothers hold their children’s hands for just a little while… and their hearts forever.”

And as the small serving plates say, “The best medicine in the world is a mother’s kiss,”… remembered and cherished. Love you Mom!

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. The flower laden fellows are Mark Roberts Fairies, and the lovely quotes are old Irish proverbs!

P.P.S. Learn how to make your own paper flower mobiles by clicking HERE.

And read how to easily make the ribbon napkin rings HERE.

Get my free printable Birthday & Mother’s Day cards HERE.

Get the perfect Macadamia Nut Cake Recipe (Gluten-free Vegan) to serve at your gathering HERE.

Free Printable Fairyland Mother’s Day & Birthday Cards + Super Easy DIY Ribbon Napkin Rings Craft Tutorials

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Craft a fantastic fairyland tablescape with this tutorial for super easy DIY ribbon napkin rings, and make fairyland cards for birthdays and Mother’s Day with my free printables. With four examples of napkin rings, using watercolor ribbon and paper gift wrapping ribbon… you’re sure to get all the inspiration you need to easily and inexpensively create the same magic for your own party. There you can raise a toast, as the fairies do in the cards, saying “Hip Hip Hooray” on celebration day!

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Make the napkin rings using absolutely any kind of ribbon you like to coordinate with your linens and decorations. (Here, I’ve used different varieties of Offray brand watercolor ribbon to resemble the petals in my fairyland tablescape.)

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Simply cut 6 inch lengths of it, and hot glue the edges (overlapping the short ends).

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Here is another example of the watercolor ribbon turned into rings.

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I made these pink and green rings to coordinate with my grandmother’s vintage ribbon rosettes.

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Here, the same super easy technique is used with simple gift wrapping paper ribbon.

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These would be equally lovely when paired with either fabric or paper napkins.

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This is the same wired paper ribbon that I used to make the rings for my scrapbooking paper flower mobiles (click here for the craft tutorial).

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Make these Mother’s Day or Birthday cards using my free printables (for personal use only). They only need to be printed, cut out, and folded over. (Find square envelopes in many colors to send these in at Paper Source, whose affiliate link is in the sidebar.)

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Right click on one of the small images above and select print. (The left is Mother’s Day & the right is Birthday.) Print these on heavy cardstock paper using the photo setting.

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To further embellish the cards as I’ve done here, you can brush on opalescent glitter glue over the fairy wings. A small ribbon bow hot glued above the words really adds dimension to the cards.

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The flower fairies seen here are from the Mark Roberts collection. They really add a whimsical touch to the centerpiece in my fairyland tablescape (see it all put together by clicking here).

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Hip Hip Hooray… we’re crafting today!

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

Healthy Purple Baked Potato Chips & Creamy Vegan Tasty Tuber Topping Dip Recipes

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These healthy recipes for purple baked potato chips and creamy vegan tasty tuber topping dip will transform your snack time into a guilt-free indulgence. They’re a great enticement for those store-bought fried chip lovers to take better care of their health, and for the picky eaters in your life… because who can resist purple food!? The tasty tuber dip is also the perfect topping for baked potatoes and can be prepared well in advance for ease of week night dinner preparation. All in all, this is a winning combination worth trying… if I do say so myself!


Purple Baked Potato Chip Ingredients:

  • 5 purple fingerling potatoes, per plate full (or any fingerling potato)
  • olive oil (enough to lightly coat potatoes)
  • sea salt (or salt free seasoning)
  • dried garlic powder (optional)
  • dried onion powder (optional)

Tasty Tuber Topping Dip Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened vegan coconut yogurt (or any variety of plain yogurt)
  • 6 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (or another healthy oil)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon veganaise (or mayo)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or lime)
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand soy-free vegan.)
  • 5 tablespoons fresh chopped chives (or 5 teaspoons dried)
  • ½ teaspoon dried garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (or 2 tablespoons salt free seasoning)

Purple Baked Potato Chip Instructions:

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First, wash and scrub the potatoes well with a brush.

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Slice them easily with a mandolin (or slice thinly by hand… the harder way).

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Next toss the potato chips with enough olive oil to coat them lightly in a bowl with the seasoning.

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Place the chips in an even layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and then sprinkle them with a light coat of seasoning.

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Bake at 375ᵒ for about 25 minutes or so depending on your oven’s nature. (They will shrink a little and change color when they’re done… so keep an eye on them.)


Tasty Tuber Topping Dip Instructions:

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Simply combine all of the ingredients.

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Then blend everything with an immersion blender, or a standard one.

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Scoop into a serving bowl, and garnish with extra chopped chives.


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This tasty topping also makes the perfect baked potato filling. It’s great to make ahead, along with baked potatoes, when you know you be in late the next day. Just reheat the spuds and serve with bagged salad.

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Who needs fried potato chips when these can be enjoyed guilt-free!? These are less expensive than the store-bought kind too! And… they are purple! Enough said.

“It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple” potato “eater, sure looks strange to me.”

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

Living Faithfully ~ Embracing Creativity

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